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 PostPost subject: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:23 pm 
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I've been investigating World of Warcraft for years now, and have authored most of the pre-release articles in the BA wiki regarding the earliest versions of the game. I've spent countless hours investigating both game resources and program methods that have been used during the game's lifetime. As such, I'd like to document and correct any incorrect bits I have collected over the years.
Forgive me if I'm wrong on some of these dates and bits that I've stitched together, as they might be from my own opinion of the sequence of events.

The start of the project actually dates back to the mid 1990's, when Warcraft 2 was out in the wild. At the time, Everquest and Ultima Online had just come online. While Blizzard began work on Starcraft, fans pushed Blizzard to develop another game based on the Warcraft franchise. Eventually, Blizzard decided to push forth on an unannounced project, beginning in December 1998.

By February/March of 1999, development had begun on the unannounced project. Small bits of information leaked out about two of the unfinished projects - Warcraft 3 and WoW. Initial work on the 3D engine began on Warcraft 3, which was eventually scrapped in favor of a different perspective. Early alpha versions of Warcraft 3 show the 3rd person perspective originally intended for the game, which ended up being redeveloped as the WoW engine.

From Warcraft 3, most of the art and sound resources were used to fill the early pre-alpha WoW game files. It is likely that they took bits from Diablo and Warcraft 3 to create the user interface of the early WoW Pre-alpha builds.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dtLhS-J9zg&list=PLDEAC93092EDA63FA[/youtube]

On September 2, 2001, Blizzard revealed the unannounced game at ECTS in London. Once the cat was out of the bag, fans of the Warcraft franchise came out of the woodwork looking for clues as to what to expect from the game. Blizzard would periodically release screenshots from the pre-alpha version of the game over the next 2 years. At each E3, they showed off their latest work and allowed people to play around with the game. Even at the 2001 reveal, a very early build was shown and playable by ECTS show goers (the press).

In February 2002, one of the earliest builds was shown off to press in France, which still contained the early pre-alpha UI.

E3 2003's version number was 3.4, indicating that internal builds had likely started from version 1.0 up until the first beta. In December of 2003, the first leak of the game occurred, version 0.5.3, which does identify itself as version 5.3 in some areas of the game. A slightly newer version, 0.5.5 was also leaked, which contained a few changes from the previous leaked alpha.

Patch 0.6 was the very first beta build released to Friends and Family beta testers. This beta has disappeared from the internet, and cannot be found for download anywhere.

Most of the game's terrain was completed by Patch 0.6 - in fact, only a handful of zones were added between v0.6 and 1.0.1. These zones were mostly dungeons that appeared to have been developed by smaller teams within Blizzard, as they were fully developed and ready to go, even if the game didn't offer them for playability testing.

During the beta, a few dungeons and raids were added to the game files, but were not introduced into the game until much later game patches, likely because the server-side scripting and testing had not been completed by the launch date.

I'll add more to this as I translate my notes over to proper english (from chicken scratch).

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:26 pm 
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I was interested in WoW early versions too. I played the alpha client on GotWoW StormCraft servers and explored here and there with sandboxes. In 0.5.3 I found many interesting places like this http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/attachments/world-of-warcraft/world-of-warcraft-exploration/6095d1328822165-alpha-build-3348-unknown-place-6.jpg for example, that were not that well known. PVPZones and very early Blasted Lands hidden there are great to see also. And of course all developer zones, unfinished 'high' mountains or flat areas.

A lot about the game dev progress can be estimated from the look. While you explore 0.5.3 and use the 'world map' it becomes obvious that it is way earlier than the world in the game. Also the 'world map' itself (http://i.imgur.com/3nMDDV8.jpg) looks different than the continents (http://i.imgur.com/dBoMVrd.png and http://i.imgur.com/NJlWI8v.png). We can estimate that the world map is older than the map for the continents just by taking a look at the south Kalimdor which was the last area developed.

Deadmines were probably the first dungeon created. As we know, Elwynn Forest and Westfall were first areas - they can be seen in first gameplay videos and they serve as a 'foundations' of designer/developer and programmer islands. User akspa420 from ownedcore.com (whose continent images I use) found out a very interesting similarity between Deadmines and Westfall minimaps: http://i.imgur.com/cGZCGC1.jpg. Most of dungeons were created by taking a large part of 'outer' world and building a dungeon in there. That leads to many interesting areas that can be found just porting out of the dungeons, just as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTrQvgxghXU

Now back to client builds. The aforementioned user found out also some old photos of Blizz Paris conference (2002):
http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/members/akspa420/albums/wow+press+event+2002/17363-screen106.jpg
http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/members/akspa420/albums/wow+press+event+2002/17364-screen107.jpg
http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/members/akspa420/albums/wow+press+event+2002/17365-screen109.jpg
http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/members/akspa420/albums/wow+press+event+2002/17366-screen110.jpg

I found more screens from this build on some random french site:
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/142/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/143/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/144/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/145/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/146/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/147/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/148/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/149/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/150/
http://worldofwarcraft.judgehype.com/galerie/151/

and two videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfzpbeWT78s (look at the FPS *hehe* )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvYHSmaD8-A

Also interesting read: http://www.graffe.com/forums/showthread.php?15526-WoW-I-Was-a-Teenage-Alpha-Tester&p=320352#post320352
Another is somewhere in http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/ forums, can't find it now ;/

That's I think all I got. There was an old screen with huuge Altar of Kings in middle of Elwynn Forest that I can't find. In some very early builds these served as resurrection places for players.
For Northrend expansion, Blizz planned to include a large underground Nerubian area but this was scrapped and some assests were used to build two small dungeons in the end. Some time ago, a so called 'Development' map (area) leaked through Blizz - as a mistake, they're put it in the test patch. :D That's why we know all that - http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/world-of-warcraft/world-of-warcraft-exploration/316305-preview-development.html

Great to see that someone is interested in WoW development too :)


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:03 pm 
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I actually am that user on ownedcore :P

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:34 pm 
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Hahah, world is so small :) Guys on OwnedCore are not *that* much interested in old builds, so great to have you here. Sadly I don't think we will ever have a chance to play around with old clients. Maybe Blizz will give us a few screens in some presentation (like D3 old screens in GDC, or S2 development video). More likely they will mess up again, and a new development map will leak.

Anyway, I think it would be great to group up all unofficial media from builds older than 0.5.3.
Small share from me: https://mega.co.nz/#!Qt0WTRRY!S6cbyvC6wXBuyMDWy7enIXWeOzwJ-BdfBim1gHuydgY - maybe that's from E3 3.4.2953 build or unknown 2003 ECTS?


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:02 am 
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lordofdepths wrote:
Anyway, I think it would be great to group up all unofficial media from builds older than 0.5.3.
Small share from me: https://mega.co.nz/#!Qt0WTRRY!S6cbyvC6wXBuyMDWy7enIXWeOzwJ-BdfBim1gHuydgY - maybe that's from E3 3.4.2953 build or unknown 2003 ECTS?


Excellent, these are certainly from E3 2003's version 3.4 of the game! I've not seen any video from that build before, so this is certainly a great find.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:36 am 
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lordofdepths wrote:
Anyway, I think it would be great to group up all unofficial media from builds older than 0.5.3.
Small share from me: https://mega.co.nz/#!Qt0WTRRY!S6cbyvC6wXBuyMDWy7enIXWeOzwJ-BdfBim1gHuydgY - maybe that's from E3 3.4.2953 build or unknown 2003 ECTS?

That would be quite good to collect all vids and pics, we can then put them in our media library here on BA as well as the upcoming gallery.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:25 pm 
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jimmsta wrote:
lordofdepths wrote:
Anyway, I think it would be great to group up all unofficial media from builds older than 0.5.3.
Small share from me: https://mega.co.nz/#!Qt0WTRRY!S6cbyvC6wXBuyMDWy7enIXWeOzwJ-BdfBim1gHuydgY - maybe that's from E3 3.4.2953 build or unknown 2003 ECTS?


Excellent, these are certainly from E3 2003's version 3.4 of the game! I've not seen any video from that build before, so this is certainly a great find.


Just to back up that theory, the original website that had those videos:
https://web.archive.org/web/20040107000 ... index.html

("original" meaning the website that ripped them from worldofwar.net)

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:09 pm 
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I've made a small research on 3.4.2953 E3 beta and I found 148 pics. Did not filter them, so some are totally pointless others very interesting: https://mega.co.nz/#!lhkjjaxT!DkS6zMEkrVvdK2l0TltLFno6LUaMydxyoOCRX-5CWJw

Edit: And two vids from E3 2002 - https://mega.co.nz/#!8sNXwLjS!2j_tM9FRRckj-ixwtxDS-GHppB1mJEsN5YwXjOQVp5U


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:26 am 
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Today, I spent a bit of time to try and get the current beta map files converted down to WoTLK, which is what most map editors are built for. In this case, Noggit is severely unstable due to missing models, but I was able to capture a few screenshots indicating the actual size of the new Outland, as well as various little weird islands that exist around it. - http://imgur.com/a/GS0HV - This is taken from version 6.0.1.18179 of the game. Black tiles are due to missing or incorrectly converted data, likely due to changes in the map file format or bugs in the official maps themselves.

From the work that has been done over the years, it seems that even Blizzard's own maps aren't completely built to-spec, and can contain weird bugs when introduced into a map editor. Then again, working without the source code to create a map viewer/editor isn't without its own set of faults.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Thu May 08, 2014 10:42 am 
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I would like to add two videos i found:
In the first one "pre-alpha trailer" i have noticed that the players are using some unobtainable armor like the footmen armor and the orc grunt gear. Honestly i think that this video was done maybe using scripted NPCS?

[youtube2]http://youtu.be/WWHCE7mgMa8[/youtube2]

In the second one i noticed some differences like the npc battling a Titan in a sort of arena

[youtube2]http://youtu.be/VmOzOQwsk_Q[/youtube2]


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Fri May 16, 2014 3:00 am 
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Those videos may be from the early game tests, likely made during the earliest alpha builds. Most of the action is likely to have been scripted server/client side.

Last night, I took a bit of time trying to figure out how the game's files were initially laid out during the alpha/pre-alpha period of time.
I found a handful of telltale signs of the past in the game's resources, going from version 0.5.3 up through 0.9.0....
some instance names are named with a prefix and suffix to indicate what they were, likely due to all the game's resources originally being in a single flat data directory, most likely setup in that way to make it easy for the developers to check in new files without needing special patches to be put into place for the client executable. It would appear that the early game files were named not for the zone that the instances were, but the overall area as defined in the old pre-WoW map of Azeroth - Khaz Modan, abbreviated 'kz', Azeroth abbreviated 'az', and Kalimdor was abbreviated 'kl'. Most early dungeons/raids were just called 'instance'. The separation of the various types of instances occurred at a later date.

Additional research is being done to determine when the separation of instances into dungeons and raids happened - whether or not it was something that came about when they decided to change warcraft 3 into the game we all know today, and split it off to become wow, or if it happened after WC3's development was near completion. I do not know if any of the guys at Blizzard would be willing to share any specifics as to when the game's various types of data became sorted. It would be interesting to find out when the game was really started - was it just an offshoot of WC3 or was WC3 intended to become an MMO from the start?

As of yesterday's research, I've come up with the earliest in-game objects - two special test items and maps - Collin and test. Collin is defined as a World that contains one WMO, collintest.wmo, while test is a World that again contains just one WMO, test.wmo. test.wmo itself is nothing but an xyz coordinate indicator, likely one of the very first objects to be used in the game and game editor, for obvious reasons. The most interesting part, though, is that the dimensions of the WMO are equal to two chunks of map data - (a single chunk is ~533.33 yards - this WMO is set to be 2-4 times a single chunk's size). This indicates to me that the original game world map may have been a lot smaller/larger than it is today. Collintest is a world that sets the player inside of a box, with a single repeating texture on the walls, floor, and ceiling. This world/map was likely a test for texturing more than anything else.

For those interested, I'm using a handful of tools from the ModCraft forums, specifically GruulMe, and mydbceditor.

I've also been looking into creating a more appropriate spells and gameitem database that would link old-world items to their old-world (pre-beta) icons, descriptions, and any other info I can scrounge up from the game dbc's. I'll be working on some sort of database for preserving the history of WoW's in-game items from the pre-beta Vanilla era.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Thu May 29, 2014 2:43 am 
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Thraxeman wrote:
I would like to add two videos i found:
In the first one "pre-alpha trailer" i have noticed that the players are using some unobtainable armor like the footmen armor and the orc grunt gear. Honestly i think that this video was done maybe using scripted NPCS?

[youtube2]http://youtu.be/WWHCE7mgMa8[/youtube2]

In the second one i noticed some differences like the npc battling a Titan in a sort of arena

[youtube2]http://youtu.be/VmOzOQwsk_Q[/youtube2]


I simply cannot believe that this game is still popular.

I mean when I first heard of this game I was like a kid and thought that it would not last... now like 10 years later people are still addicted to this game :D

Insane.


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:19 am 
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some one find this old alpha client ?


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:16 pm 
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Nope, no one has responded to any requests for information regarding those early builds. There was likely an NDA that the developers signed, and one of the stipulations may be to not talk about the pre-alpha - but who knows. Maybe they just don't care enough to answer 'fan mail'.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:04 am 
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World of Warcraft: Alpha & Beta Rare Pictures (2002 - 2004) - http://imgur.com/a/onti2


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:50 am 
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Reidor wrote:
World of Warcraft: Alpha & Beta Rare Pictures (2002 - 2004) - http://imgur.com/a/onti2

Whoa! I've never seen any of those before (except for the last 3 shots of Onyxia). Where'd you find them?

Ah, the "Looking For Group" Documentary. Very interesting to see these early screenshots, along with the fact that the early screenshots were named "WC3ScrnShot_mmddyy_xxx", thus showing the fact that WoW came from Warcraft 3's engine. Very awesome to see confirmation that the early builds of WoW were part of the Warcraft 3 codebase, even to the extent that the screenshot code hadn't been changed up till much later than I had thought.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:16 am 
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jimmsta wrote:
Very awesome to see confirmation that the early builds of WoW were part of the Warcraft 3 codebase


We kinda had confirmed by the source code list of the Warcraft 3 Art Tools, iirc.

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:55 am 
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Cool rare screnshost on Blizzcon 2014 - http://wow.joystiq.com/photos/blizzcon- ... t-gallery/


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:41 am 
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Alpha client incl. MatrixHax (simple server emulator, but best we had at that time)

https://mega.co.nz/#!l08wDJha!wFSoCrR6X ... yVV0yoVefk


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:17 am 
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What build is that?


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:37 am 
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Version 5.3, Build 3368. Probably the only WoW F&F alpha that ever leaked


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:07 pm 
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I've been interested in the water graphics that were showcased with the game around year 2001, I have tried to look at some of the shader files (.bls) and other miscellaneous data files, but so far I've not been able to find any correlation to it. If you search for videos of it you can also see that that it moved along the shoreline, so I am assuming there must have been a vertex shader for it.

Have anyone here been able to find any traces of it?


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:29 am 
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Hey, an old very rare screenshot resurfaced when I was browsing some old wow content:

Image

Yep, they actually used Altar of Kings for player resurrection.

And just for comparison the same area in leaked F&F Alpha, where Altar was replaced with resurrection stone:

Image


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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:05 pm 
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lordofdepths wrote:
Hey, an old very rare screenshot resurfaced when I was browsing some old wow content:

http://www.betaarchive.com/imageupload/2015-11/1446678994.or.89652.jpg

It's actually available in highres from meristation (one of the few really old gaming websites):
http://img2.meristation.com/files/image ... seback.jpg

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 PostPost subject: Re: World of Warcraft: E3/Alpha/Beta Discussion Thread        Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:53 am 
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This thread will probably interest you:
http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/world-of-warcraft/world-of-warcraft-exploration/424923-pre-2003-forsaken-female-texture-found.html#post3195076

It has some of the Blizzcon 2014 screenshots.
As well as a find I made in the 2003 alpha.

There are a lot of old material left hidden in the files.
That Altar of Kings for instance, is still in the files to this day.

And finally, A gem exclusively for this thread.
I was browsing through the 2003 Wow alpha, when I found this:

Image

It's an UI map for flightpaths, which shows an earlier version of the world.
Note the Wc3 style Quel'thalas, covering much of what would become EPL.


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