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TRI – first update, Steam trading cards, reviews and Poznan

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1. TRI's final version is out about two weeks old now, and especially Friedrich is engaging with the community on Steam. People write really nice, uplifting reviews, ask for hints in more difficult parts or write walkthroughs for the hidden idols. With pleasure we receive mails from people who played the game through or simply tell us how much they enjoy the game, its graphics and music. You guys rock and made the release a real delight for us!

Meanwhile Friedrich also fixed some bugs and added hints to some level parts - release notes are here. The new version is already on Steam and currently uploading to all of the platforms where TRI is purchasable. Finally, I also created the Trading Cards, Backgrounds and Emoticons you will get while playing TRI on Steam. I have to admit that I should have created them earlier, right when we released TRI on Steam. I was never much into these cards and just archived those I got and sold doubles on the market. But while creating the images I engaged more with them and tried to craft badges and get backgrounds for my profile. It's a bit sad that I won't play most games that much to earn enough to create even more badges, but I guess they want you to use the market even more. The idea of getting rewards for playing to individualise your profile and receive coupons for a game you might not know yet is pretty intriguing. I think next time I take the cards more serious and create them earlier.

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2. We are also very thankful and extremely happy about the nice reviews we received so far. All in all we currently earned a sweet Metacritic score of 83% so far. Have a look at current reviews:

"It's a moment I imagine everyone experiences early in Rat King Entertainment's first-person puzzler--when you shatter the laws of the universe and do the impossible, finally realizing the full extent of the TRI's creative power. (8/10)" by Brandin Tyrell of Gamespot

"Die Level in TRI sind Leinwände, auf denen Spieler völlig bizarre, wunderschöne Wege einzeichnen können. Über den Abgrund, die Wand hoch, runter in den Abgrund, im Kreis und zum Ausgang. Warum? Weil’s geht." by Dennis Kogel of Superlevel

"Tri is definitely one of the most memorable entries in its genre." by Robert Allen of Tech Gaming

"TRI is not typical by any measure and instead charts its own path to puzzle gaming greatness. (9/10)" by Marcus Estrada of HardcoreGamer

"Haunting music / Fiendishly clever, yet difficult, puzzles / Excellent mechanics. (8/10)" by Chris of Maroonersrock

"There is such a unique feel to it, and I got completely sucked into the gameplay" by Bonnie Burgette of Indie Game Mag

"I knew the game had taken hold of me when I was at work running through possible solutions in my head to try out when I got home that evening, and it has been a little while since a puzzle game has had that effect on me." by Chris Dahlberg of Cosmogaming

3. Aaaaand, last but not least: We are going to be in Poznan next week for the GameDev Convention and the Poznan Game Arena to showcase TRI and give a talk about puzzles. Like always I'm going to write afterwards about the event.

4. Oh, not to forget: we got featured in our friends weekly diary. Still Alive Studios included TRI in their Indie corner.

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TRI – It’s done! \o/

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In the last weeks, months, years and especially the last days there happened so much with TRI that we needed a little time-out and totally missed a realtime RELEASE announcement on our own blog. This is the catch up - we happily announce that WE DID IT. TRI is finished!

Well, except for the trading cards on Steam and some minor bug fixes... A real game project - it seems - will never be really finished. And there is, of course, still so much work to do to spread the word on every channel and try to reach out more journalists and YouTubers to take a look at the game.

Although - there are already some pretty cool reviews for us. I think the HardcoreGamer review, which also has an entry on Metacritics, nailed it: 4.5 out of 5! That was indeed a nice release gift for us! The Steam reviews and people telling us that they finished the game are the cherry on the cake after all the efforts.

We also did an interview (in German) on the evening of our release with Manu from Insert Moin.

Oh, and in case you wondered where this sneaky name extension ("Of Friendship and Madness)" comes from: one night before the release we learned that it is impossible to add TRI to curation lists. This is because if you try to find the game via auto completion, it rather chooses more popular games like Counterstrike for you instead of TRI - and the curator lists only work with auto completion. So that's why we added "Of Friendship and Madness".

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New Release Trailer + Steam

Just five days to go and TRI is available on your favorite games platform! Until then, have a look at our new trailer, featuring the monk's voice actor Harvey Cash with music by Ludwig Hanisch.

In September 2013 we put TRI on Steam Greenlight. Nearly one year later we opened our Steam store page. You can add the game to your wishlist now, if you like.

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We have a date!

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Dear readers, players and friends of the TRI!

We have a date! Fox and Monk are prettily dressed and ready to show you the world they lived in for two and a half years now. We from Rat King are extremely psyched that we made it this far after all the problems and highlights we had while making the game.

TRI will be available for Windows, Linux and Mac. You will be able to get the game on Steam, IndieGameStand, Humble Store and itch.io, with hopefully more platforms to be announced soon.

In other news:

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  • Friedrich made a new small game for Ludum Dare  #30 within 48 hours and called it > Continue. It's a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure where you can read and continue several stories, or start your own from the starting situation as shown in the picture above. Go here to explore what already happened.
  • Moreover did Friedrich start a little blog on his daily work and updates for the game. He also writes about games he likes or events we are attending. Take a look at THE APE TRIBE.
  • Remember our last news about Desura? If you bought the game there you can get your personal Steam keys now.

Some new screenshots of TRI:

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TRI pulled from Desura

Sad news: TRI won't be purchasable through Desura anymore. Due to some unforeseeable circumstances, we've had to ask them to pull the game from the store. It is now set to "Invite Only".

Basically this means the following:

  • we will not update the game on Desura anymore.
  • everybody who bought the game via Desura will still have the game in their collection. There they can automatically receive a Steam key by clicking on it. Please write me if Steam is not acceptable for you, and we will find another solution. Send your Desura receipt as proof of ownership.
  • everybody who bought/got the game via HumbleStore (ie. our website) or IndieGameStand will automatically get a Steam key on the respective back-ends. This will hopefully happen pretty soon, but those sites also offer a DRM-free version of TRI anyway.
  • everybody who got the game via a Desura promo/prize code unfortunately will not get a notification via mail or so and has to write us directly. Tell us the Desura code / receipt you got as proof of ownership, and we will sort this out together, probably with a Steam key. We hope we can reach all the people in question via Facebook, Twitter or our newsletter.
  • if you're press - just contact Rising Star Games or write us!
  • in the future, you will be able to get TRI at least on our website, Steam, IndieGameStand and itch.io. Of course, on these platforms we will continue to update the game.

We cannot stress out enough how much we're sorry for this situation, especially as we still love Desura and want to be part of it. And we still are, for example with our roguelike Pitman.

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How to bring your game to the Gamescom – a MEGABOOTH diary

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In August, 13th to 17th, the world's largest games fair for players was held - the Gamescom. 335,000 players, business attendees and developers visited Cologne from 88 different countries. For a whole week we were guests in a wild mix of games, Let's play shows and character cosplay. Moreover we have been part of the famous Indie MEGABOOTH. Here are my thoughts on this amazing experience of our two-headed team Rat King and what it took to showcase our game. A diary:

How to get to the Gamescom?

Because I was asked quite often how to get in, let's answer the first question right away: how can you show your game at the MEGABOOTH?

First you should subscribe to the newsletter and wait for the announcement of the convention you want to take part in as an exhibitor. Former MEGABOOTH exhibitors and the team around Kelly Wallick and Christopher Floyd playtest all games and look for a nice mix in genre, visuals and gameplay.

For the Gamescom in Germany 34 teams were chosen who presented 36 games on 362 m². Since we had the go since July to be part of the MEGABOOTH debut in Germany and the necessary backup from our publisher to stem the weight of costs, our planning started.

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Preparations

The best thing about the MEGABOOTH is that you don't have to think of all the unpleasant parts of an exhibition, like how to build the booth and where to rent the hardware. Instead you can nicely concentrate on all the visual and physical materials necessary to present your game's beauty.

We had the naive idea to finish our game TRI punctually for the Gamescom, then go there and present a finished game. Right ... Keep in mind that taking part in an exhibition will take at least two weeks upfront of your time. And believe me when I say all the mail communication and design for and production of buttons, postcards and posters will consume all of your time - except if you are a multi-tasking genius or have a bigger team.

I thought about nice stuff to hand out, like buttons (150 pieces), postcards (1000, could have been more!) and hand-crafted press kits (30, too few), and also the XXL-poster for the booth itself. Eventually we received large character displays and stickers from Friedrich's amazing parents.
Meanwhile Friedrich finished the current build of our game TRI, with some cheats for us and to prevent people from shutting down the PC. We also discussed which part of the game we want people to play. Is it better to have a demo that could be finished within a short timespan or would we like to let people play as long as they wish, to see for how long they are actually interested? We decided to make this a huge playtest to find out what people really think of the game. In addition we cut out the second level, which we both love but is too much of a filler. We didn't find it appropriate for an exhibition where you want people to directly head for the main gameplay: building triangles as platforms and to walking on the walls)

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Press

In the weeks before GC I contacted mostly the German and Austrian press. For international press contacts it was quite hard to find out which magazines or sites would do the trip to Germany and who they are going to send. It was also kind of weird to write everybody for TRI in my name, then the German press in the name of the Megabooth and after that all my contacts about Süpergute Indies - an initiative of German, Austrian and Swiss indies to make sure you can reach all of us in their places. But I guess you just did the job right if it felt like spamming everybody three times ...

My learning: don't do the press work two weeks before the Gamescom as most journos will already be booked with appointments. Although I'm super-happy with the response this time and that most of the invited journalists at least agreed on coming by if they found some time. Starting everything earlier is my big goal for the next convention, now that I have so many contacts readily collected.

What I didn't do was contacting Let's Players. After attending the Rezzed in March this year, which was 100% devoted to showcasing games via Twitch or YouTube, it was weird to see so few people documenting the GC with their phones and camera. On the other hand the professional and bigger YouTubers couldn't take two steps in the halls without meeting their fans who demand photos with them. We were lucky to get invited by the Game One team to their livestreams, nonetheless, which was a crazy experience.

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The MEGABOOTH

The Gamescom had different halls that hosted the business area (4 and 5), the entertainment area (6-9) and the hardware and comic market with the cosplayers - that was where the MEGABOOTH has been placed (hall 10). A really great thing about the assemblance: it doesn't matter how big your name or how famous your game is - all our booths had the same size in space and XXL-posters. You get a table, two chairs, a PC, monitor and a large TV. More hardware or furniture could have been ordered or brought along by yourself. Logitech sponsored mouse, keyboard, controllers and headphones, which we could keep after the show. Nice.

We arrived at the GC on Tuesday to prepare our booth. Arranging a table and the large flatscreen shouldn't be a problem when you decide to go for minimalism as it suited our game and wallet best. We just tried to put everything in a way to make everything visible from every angle and didn't create a psychological border that kept people from trying out our game. By adding some stickers while setting up fox and monk we were quickly finished, while we could see what the others did with their space. I think Armello with their superb characters and fake ivy and moreover Dex with the Cyberpunk-fluids-and-cables construction should be mentioned for bringing up the greatest designs for their spaces.

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Gamescom starts with the business day on Wednesday

In theory on Wednesday only exhibitors and press can access the whole area. In practice it's already a run for the big players as many exhibitors tend to bring their families over and the under-aged business men turned out to be winners of the Wildcards that people without press or exhibition passes could have applied for on the internet.

My advise after this year is: use this day and make some handshakes in the business area to get contacts. The business area is stuffed with publishers, platform holders (Steam, gog.com) and hardware developers (Oculus, Nvidia). Even without an appointment you might get a business card or introduce yourself.

Instead we mostly stood at our booth because it was just the two of us, and we seldomly took turns. We rather refined psychological tactics to guide people to play our game. Especially helpful was Thorsten Wiedemann's (director of the Amaze festival) INDEPENDENCE AMAZING, a large 20-pages old-school newspaper packed with interviews and articles that needed to be held wide-armed for reading. We gave them out to by-passers to stop them in their rush through the hardware hall.

You will observe an interesting effect: if you gather a group of people, even more will follow and your viewers soon will crowd the little space and raise even more attention. But if nobody stands there it gets harder to persuade people to take a look to the left or right instead of walking straight out of the hall. So it's wise to guide interested sidewalkers to your game.

Talking to people at the GC must be strange for foreigners as most people will be from Germany and therefore prefer the German language to talk in. Which was an awesome feeling for us as we are used to talk about TRI in English to reach a wider audience. But for the first time it was a home match and we needed to develop the game's pitch in German as well. While of course a lot of people will come from all over Europe to celebrate games and hope for some words in English, too. So you will get an interesting demographic and very European slice of players from here.

A week of madness - Consumer Days from Thursday to Sunday

Over the week we learned to guide people to our booth and even asked press to get to us after finished filming at nearby booths. One thing is clear: don't be shy but also don't be too pushy. Watching the people standing at your booth more closely, you will also learn that some of them need to be asked to try your game. A lot of the visitors are too shy to just make the step themselves (so much about psychological border). It was also a pleasure to get direct feedback for the game, as most folks watched our trailers on the TV and outspoke quite honest and loud what they thought. On the graphical part and also showcasing the interaction we can be fully happy with our work, as our overall look&feel set itself apart from other games and was rewarded with so many compliments.

Therefore we added our laptop to the playable devices on the second day. While Friedrich used it to instantly fix bugs and give new builds to our one playable device on Wednesday, we realized that one PC just isn't enough. We decided to have only one station in the first place because we couldn't estimate the interest for TRI. Having too much PCs might have led to orphaned and sad-looking stations, but with a fair of 335,000 attendees that won't be the case. Especially as soon as people heard that you can play games in hall 10 without waiting in line!

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I only wish we could have spread the word a bit more to people interested into smaller games by handing them some MEGABOOTH cards at the exits of the other halls to guide them directly to hall 10. I still wonder if it was either perfect that we were in our 'own' hall among the creative bunch of cosplayers and Magic cards while still being able to talk to each other because of not being constantly surrounded by over-powered bass. Or would it be better not to separate indies (let's get rid of the name!) from AAA games, but risk that the player's heads might be already filled up with the blockbusters they know instead of looking for fresh titles in an assembled collection.

I would like to see an entertainment area where people can decide on their own if they want to play smaller titles instead of needing to search for them. Not to forget that there already was the Indie Arena booth (assemblance of mostly German and Austrian indie games like Schein or Team Indie) placed between Nintendo and Bethesda. Their booth was mostly overcrowded with indie fans but also filled with bad acoustics surrounding them in return.

What would have been better? No idea. Instead we enjoyed to talk to our visitors in person, get criticism and find some time to meet with who came by to say hello. We also handed postcards only to people that at least took a closer look at TRI, because we felt just smashing random people with cards doesn't make any sense. Going for personal communication instead of mass amusement seemed to work out for us.

Is indie still cool

While "Are games art?" was last year's interviewer's most favourite question, this year we got mostly asked if it is still cool to be called 'indie'. The MEGABOOTH landed in Cologne with an amazing reputation they got from the PAX shows since their debut in 2012. Being part in this fresh, beautiful and extremely diverse collection did celebrate the term indie in a lot of ways. Although with no doubt without a publisher we couldn't have spend money for the show. On the other hand 'indie' only means something to just a few German players and the press, therefore the MEGABOOTH needed to build their reputation in Germany anew.

When I took a break to spend my time standing in queue for an hour to see the Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt live-gameplay I talked a lot to the people standing in line. Against any speculation about waiting for a game (if it doesn't take you eight hours like for Call of Duty) it is really fun to speak to the fans of a game you like as well and socialize a bit. I exchanged some of my TRI postcards for sweets and talked about indie games. Standing at the big players' booths and hearing that normal people haven't heard of indie games before and are not really interested in unknown stuff can be pretty humbling.

I guess that answers the question whether indie 'still' is cool in another way. While it served as a quality signet for games like World of Goo or Braid it has worn off since then or never really arrived here with the same impact as it did in America (or did I mistake that from the games press?). As most games are too diverse and the 'genre' (was it ever one?) has become the business model of choice without necessarily representing a certain type of game.

Or is there still a difference, as we all receive good credit for our games at the MEGABOOTH as being the most interesting and surprising bunch of teams showcasing their games at the GC. Presented by the developers themselves!

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Was it worth it?

We got asked quite often if attending the very own booth and standing there for a whole week was worth our time and money. I guess you can't compensate that in money or sold copies. But being able to present our nearly finished game to an audience consisting of an extremely diverse range of players and also other developers who came by – that was extremely important for us. Especially as we were attending the Gamescom (back then known as the Games Convention in Leipzig) since we were students. But it's a whole different world if you present your university prototypes just for fun, being able to stroll off any time you want, in comparison to having your first real big game out there. I guess I just shouldn't wear other games' shirts as I got asked if I work on the Witcher too many times.

Meeting other devs and sharing this great event with all the feet aches and losing your voice over the week while trying to party a bit in the evenings is an immense experience for us. Especially with a huge assembly like the MEGABOOTH helping you with all above mentioned stuff. Having your own booth not only helps you with getting a lot more confidence with your game (instead of sitting in your cave while working nearly three years on it with just very few recognition), but also with getting in contact to press and people interested in your kind of game more easily. And as a player, it was pretty awesome to meet the nice guys behind games like The Talos Principle, Armello, Renowned Explorers: International Society, Tengami, Ghost of a Tale, Dungeon of the Endless and many, many more!

Thanks for the great time, everybody!

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Want to hear more of the Gamescom from us?

Listen to our podcast (In German)

Read Friedrich's impressions

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TRI at the Gamescom 2014

Last week was Gamescom week. It was very exhausting, and a great experience overall. My feet are burning, and my voice got lost somewhere between Thursday and Friday, but a lot of people played TRI - and best of all, most of those even liked it! My favorite visitors were two girls who came with their mother, and they got so excited while playing that they visited our booth half an hour later again, just to ask if there is a possibility to find out when the game will be released! (There is, just subscribe to our newsletter.)

Friedrich at the Booth

Yes, we had a booth to showcase TRI. We were part of the Indie MEGABOOTH, and so we exhibited together with more than 30 other developers in individual smaller sub-booths. We met a lot of cool people which was one of the greatest things about this. Because I don't really think showing the game to (a fraction of) 335,000 visitors actually would have a significant effect on sales or overall popularity - we were located in a less prominent hall and most visitors still didn't care about indie games or could identify them as games at all ... This is why we gave our flyers only to those who stopped to have a look at TRI.

Despite of the AAA preference of most visitors we got some valuable feedback again, and some of it not so valuable. One person didn't think a price of $15 would be justified and told us to lower it to $10 maximum; but other than that almost all feedback was positive. Of course, one reason might be that players who disliked TRI didn't care about telling us why, haha.

TRI Level 5

I will make the sprinting (via Shift key) less restrictive even though I didn't want it in the game in the first place. In the end it doesn't really matter and if it makes some players happier it shall be - thus the fatigue bar will cease to exist. I guess a valuable lesson in this regard is that most times TRI is played for the first time anyway. Sure, some people might play it more than once, but this will be only a fraction of total plays. A game like TRI should be designed foremost for first-time players. It's not a roguelike after all.

Some people even asked what we planned for our next game. We don't really have a concrete idea yet, all we know is that we want to make a smaller game which should potentially be able to run on consoles and maybe even mobile. Perhaps we do something with local multiplayer. It's just that you need to invest some time into TRI before you "get" it, and the controls are restricted to mouse and keyboard because of the necessary precision for the triangles. Both are factors that makes it hard to generate a hype about the game for the broader masses, which is very unfortunate for us and something we really want to do better next time.

TRI Level 4

It helped a lot that I took out the second level for the demonstration on the Gamescom; so basically you would start in the Tower of Nowhere as soon as you beat the tutorial before the temple. This way players reached the main gameplay (the triangles) within five minutes instead of 15. It was also interesting to see that some persistent visitors even got to the regions where you walk on the walls and ceilings. One very brave soul directly started a later level, Glimpse of Light, and only a few hints were needed for him to beat it; but of course he needed longer as he didn't have the knowledge of the former levels - he didn't even do the tutorial. It's great to see that people can easily spend an hour casting triangles everywhere.

One of my personal highlights of that week was that Sos Sosowski lured Alexander Bruce to our booth - and he actually played it for a while. Some people even compare TRI to Antichamber (among other games), but this is farfetched in my opinion - TRI is much more conservative in its game design and visuals. On the other hand some people will always find comparisons, because that's how the brain works, and those comparisons might be strange in your own perspective. Though I don't really understand at all how anyone could think of Shadow of the Colossus when seeing TRI.

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Podcast #3 – Eine Woche Gamescom-Wahnsinn und die Indie MEGABOOTH

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Nach über einem Jahr gibt es die dritte Podcastausgabe. Diesmal geht es um die Gamescom und welche Spiele wir dort gespielt haben. Außerdem waren wir Teil der Indie MEGABOOTH. Ihr braucht also neues Zockerwerk oder wollt wissen, was wir die Woche über so erlebt haben? Hört rein!

Achja, sorry für's Schmatzen, wir essen Hustenbonbons en masse.

00:00:00 Intro
00:00:36 Indie MEGABOOTH Watch the trailer!
00:00:50 Die Hintergrundgeschichte der IMB auf Polygon.
00:05:00 The Witcher - Wild Hunt Gameplay demo
00:06:20 Risen 3 Sexismus und Patty Trotzdem, hier auch mal der Trailer.
00:09:00 Olivers Spiel heißt übrigens Sky Arena.
00:10:00 Armello von League of Geeks
00:14:00 The Talos Principle von Croteam
00:19:00 Gang Beasts von Boneloaf und Broforce von Freelives
00:20:00 Dex von Dreadlocks
00:22:00 Affordable Space Adventure von Knapknok
00:25:00 Renowned Explorers: International Society von Abbey Games
00:29:00 Tengami von Nyamyam
00:31:00 Wayward Souls von Rocket Cat Games
00:32:00 Wander
00:33:00 Machineers von Lohika
00:34:00 Ghost of a Tale
00:38:00 Below von Capy
00:40:00 Wir war die Messe für uns und wie kam TRI an?
00:41:00 Speedrunners von Double Dutch Games
00:42:00 Cosmonautica von Chasing Carrots
00:43:00 Dragon Fin Soup von Grimm Bros
00:44:00 Der Beatbuddy!!! Hier koofen.
00:45:00 Where is my Heart? von Bernie Schulenberg
00:47:00 Thorstens Independence Amazing
00:49:00 Team Indie von Brightside Games
00:49:30 Splee&Glob von Frame 6
00:51:00 Nelly Cootalot
00:52:00 The Masterplan
00:57:00 Scheiß Magictrailer. Naja, ich übertreibe vermutlich. Hier.
00:59:00 Rive von Two Tribes
01:03:00 Ein Hoch auf René Meyer!
01:05:00 Respawn Danke Alex für die Einladung zum Talk!
01:06:00 Michael Cherdchupan ist Teil von Insert Moin und Kollisionsabfrage

Übrigens: In unserem Podcast haben wir schändlicherweise vergessen, die großartige Retro-Ausstellung in Halle 10.2 zu erwähnen! Dies sei hiermit nachgeholt - zwar kamen wir nicht dazu, uns die Exponate anzusehen (aus genannten Gründen), aber Friedrich nutzte die Möglichkeit, TRI auf der Retro-Bühne vorzustellen. Dank dafür! ... und ein drittes Mal Danke an René, da er uns half, unseren Kram - unter anderem unsere Booth-Dekoration - wieder nach Hause zu bringen!

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Tschüß, bis nächstes Jahr!

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