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Post-Crisis Final Fantasy VII All content in Advent Children Complete, On the Way to a Smile, & Dirge of Cerberus detailing the 3 years since the conclusion of Final Fantasy VII.

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Old 08/14/2017   #826
Shademp
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I should point () out that the northwest-pointing claw has not been seen in beta screenshots. Only ever in the early 2006 era and in the aforementioned battle spoils screen.


Though upon revisiting the Silent Killing recording I notice that at first we have the standard east-pointing claw appear, then the northwest one.



This makes me speculate that the northwest-pointing claw is in fact what you get when using a mouse instead of a PS2 controller. I will try to confirm this. We may not actually be dealing with a case of a version update here. The smooth way that the claw cursor moves in the video is also an indicator that a mouse was used.

EDIT: When using a mouse in PCSX2 for controlling the cursor in Dirge of Cerberus, the claw remains the same east-pointing version. I've stashed away my PS2 for now so I'll try playing with a mouse at a later date.

EIDT #2: For those curious, the Silent Killing video link was first found via Michui's FFXI blog. It is a great stroke of luck that the YouTube link was also archived. The blog entry also provides two other YouTube links but neither have been archived. I can't quite make out if the blog specifies the contents of these two videos that are now lost.
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Old 08/17/2017   #827
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The Dirge of Cerberus β Version is now making the rounds on the Japanese Yahoo auction website. Bidding ends in 17 hours but I reckon that the same copy will pop up again soon if nobody bids this time around. Just mentioning it in the off case that somebody here wants to take the opportunity and buy this collectible.

As usual, the auction article mentions nothing about this being a beta version.

I will only acquire a third copy of the β Version if it includes the blue PlayOnline manual. My two current copies came without said manual, only including the black game manual.
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Old 08/19/2017   #828
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Been spending the last few days copying over DCFF7 β Tester blogs to an Excel document while also double-checking to make sure everything is saved in the Internet Archive. Transferring it all over to Excel will take months and I won't do it all in one go, but every step on the way matters.

On occasion I still try and treasure hunt for DCFF7 Multiplayer screenshots and blogs. The meticulous process of copying the blogs increases the odds of me finding important links that I may have missed on my previous visits. Though, as you'd expect by this point after all the work I've already done, discoveries are few and far between.

My assessment is that most of what remains to be found are the one or two Dirge reports written by FFXI bloggers, like this one I only found yesterday because I was investigating conceal's blog. Many FFXI players only picked up Dirge Online once or twice, to nobody's surprise.




Today's discovery felt somewhat more exciting than yesterday's. While copying Drop's blog (which was an easy blog to copy because it only contains the single entry about Dirge) I noticed Drop's twitter account. Scrolling down the long history of Drop's twitter activity, I found this tweet to my great joy!

It shows a screenshot also found in the blog but in the tweet it was uploaded in a higher resolution! To compare...

Blog:



Tweet:



Huzzah! I've tweeted Drop about my search for DCFFVII Multiplayer media but I'm not expecting a reply.
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Old 08/24/2017   #829
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This blog entry gave me the impression that somewhere the Church map was changed between beta/2005 and retail/2006, though I don't know exactly what it is saying.
教会の塀の上の壁が高くなってました(立ってても撃たれない)

(Google Translate)

The wall above the wall of the church was elevated (even if you stand you will not be shot)
While I do not know the full extent of how this map might have changed I just now noticed one detail: There was no railing at the top of the church in the beta phase.

β Version Church















2006 Era Church












The railings are there in the Extra Missions that utilize the Church map. In the post-JORG games you can't jump over the railings and drop down. In all honesty I am not aware if you could go over the ledge in the online multiplayer, whether we're talking about the 2006 era or the beta phase where there wasn't even a single railing.

Invisible walls may have been utilized here or they might not have. Regardless it's fun to have spotted another way in which a map was changed from beta to retail.

EDIT: Half a year ago I also spotted how the Briefing Room was changed between between beta and retail.
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Old 08/25/2017   #830
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This redditor has now ruined Vincent's official profile art for me. >___>

If you look close enough you’ll see that Vincent might be smiling (zoomed inlay for convenience)



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Old 08/27/2017   #831
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I am being rewarded for my archiving efforts.

Blogger Usaco was/is a...complicated case. The person's site still existed as late as November last year, which marks about the time when my first archiving efforts for the DCFFVII Multiplayer began. The blog only contained two Dirge of Cerberus entries and it was by luck that I discovered the blog once contained far more than that. Sadly none of the screenshots had been saved in the Internet Archive.

I sent Usaco a message asking about Dirge of Cerberus Multiplayer media and naturally I did not receive a reply.

Then in February something strange happened and it is yet again only by great luck and tenacity that I found it. Usaco's old DCFFVII β blog entries, complete with screenshots, resurfaced on their website! The url was different now in that instead of it reading "blog" it read "temp".

This resurrected blog wasn't meant for anybody to find as it was not linked via the "standard" blog, though I paid no attention to such details and the fact that the blog title read as follows:
【仮】ブログ
仮設置。近日消す。

(Google Translate)

【Tentative】 Blog
Provisional installation. It disappears soon.
I simply did what I knew I had to do: Save the Dirge of Cerberus blog entries onto the Internet Archive as fast as I could. So happy was I to save the screenshots and the gaming diary I thought had been lost to time.


Yesterday, while copying blogs over to Excel documents, I found that all of Usaco's websites have been removed. Usaco-cafe.com, be it the standard blog or the "temp" one, are no longer there. You are instead treated either to a 403 or a 404 screen.

Thusly I am rewarded for my archiving efforts. Most of usaco's website is gone, naturally, but the Dirge of Cerberus entries and screenshots are still there.



My guess is that events transpired like this: Usaco set the majority of DCFFVII β entries to private somewhere between December 2007 and January 2009 (this much is already proven by looking at the Internet Archive's capture history). Though they stopped updating the blog after August 2012, I still sent a message to Usaco via their website in late 2016.

Though Usaco ignored my request, for reasons I probably would not understand, my message reminded them to revisit and possibly save their old content. Thus the "temp" provisional blog was set up. (I don't understand why they didn't just review their blog in private mode, but there you go.) Usaco saved what seemed important enough then deleted everything from the web, unaware of the obsessiveness and fortune that had allowed me to save the DCFFVII beta blog entries before it was too late.


It is of course possible that Usaco has reuploaded (or will reupload) their blog somewhere else but if that's the case, I am surprised that I am yet to find it. Either way, my work here is done.

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Old 09/09/2017   #832
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By combining info from various entries of Kupoa's blog (and to a lesser degree, other blogs) and archived FF Strategy Guide pages (from a time when its contents mostly concerned the beta phase of the online multiplayer) I've been able to learn more about the beta NPCs. These revelations are now reflected in the NPCs of Deepground page.


DGS/DGT Wizz



This NPC captioned as "Materia Man" [マテリアマン] by Kupoa was responsible for giving out the Fire Materia, Materia Booster and Materia Floater to the player characters. Kupoa indeed describes Wizz as a person who loves materia. I speculate his name is a play on the English term "Wizard" due to his relation to magic. It could also be based on the term "whiz", which refers to somebody being extremely clever at something, which in turn is probably derived from "Wizard".

Wizz is appropriately enough wearing the Magic Suit.


Upgrading equipped materia from Lv1 to Lv2 or Lv3 is a familiar concept from the Dirge of Cerberus single player, but in the multiplayer this mechanic was only present in the beta phase. For this reason, the accessories "Materia Booster" and "Materia Floater", both which increase your magic/materia level by 1, are not present in the 2006 era.

By defeating enough enemies with the help of magic, Wizz would reward the player with the Materia Booster. Defeating hundreds more enemies with the destructive power of magic, then having Materia Booster equipped when talking to Wizz, would reward you with the Materia Floater. Equipping both these accessories is the only known way to have unlocked Lv3 magic in the beta phase. An online-mode accessory called "Materia Booster β" (EDIT: which increases magic by two levels) can be found in the game data but it appears to have gone totally unused even during the beta testing period.

One screenshot refers to a "DGT Wizz" and online sources switch between references to a "DGS Wizz" and a "DGT Wizz". Thusly, the true title of Wizz "The Materia Man" is unclear. I would be inclined to say that the screen referring to "DGT Wizz" solves this issue if not for the slight possibility that Wizz at some point progressed from Scout to Trooper class.


The beta NPC "Wizz" would become "DGD Peliry" of the 2006 era. Peliry acted as the game's materia tutorial and was involved in unlocking one or two missions. He does not seem to have ever handed out items like Wizz did.

DGD Peliry of the 2006 era, early design versus later design






Both Wizz and Peliry were situated in coordinate B-11 of Area 2 in the Deepground Lobby.
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Old 09/10/2017   #833
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West-D



Standing right next to the arc discharging electricity in Area 2, West-D was a beta NPC who would become Este-D of the 2006 era. Both NPCs have in common that they wore the gas mask (though Este-D's initial character model wore a mask more akin to the standard DG Soldier Mask) and could receive the Dandelion quest item and reward the player for it. West-D and Este-D are also similar-sounding names.

FF Strategy Guides refer to West-D being situated in coordinate H-14 and this seems accurate with screenshots. In the NPC map guide for Area 2 of the 2006 era below you can see how West-D was moved to G-10 when they became Este-D.

2006 Era: Area 2 NPC Map






The process of acquiring the Dandelion was pretty much the same both in beta- and retail versions. Pick up the Fuzzy Seed in the Collector's Mind mission, give the Fuzzy Seed to Hiren in Area 4, wait a few days, get a Dandelion from Hiren and then give the flower to West-D/Este-D.

After giving the yellow flower to West-D, you weren't instantly rewarded. Instead you unlocked the scenario that after completing 50 TBTs, West-D would give you one of three random Kits for tuning up weapons: Power Kit, Speed Kit or Weight Kit. After receiving a kit, you'd then perform 50 more battles and receive another random kit, repeating the cycle indefinitely.

Sources differ on whether 50 TBTs (Team Battles) were the only condition. Some write that completing BTs (Battles) and/or clearing missions added to the counter. The one constant here is the number "50". I am pretty confident that you only had to give a Dandelion to West-D that one single time. This is fortunate, since some bloggers report that it could take DGD Hiren up to five days to grow the Fuzzy Seed into a Dandelion. In a beta testing period that only lasted 39 days (if you were lucky to get an early shipment of the β Version!), those five days represent 12.8% of the whole period!


As some of you may remember, the color of the gas mask was changed between beta and retail.

  

Este-D, early design and later design





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Old 09/10/2017   #834
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After almost two weeks of work I have copied all of Kupoa's old beta blog over to Excel, plus made doubly sure that everything is saved onto the Internet Archive. With this I am very close to completion when it comes to copying over the beta blogs to translation documents.

When Kupoa moved from yaplog to fc2, they copied their beta diary onto the new site. However, not all entries made the transition and some screenshots were ignored, so for the full β diary you should look to the yaplog version.

My favorite moment from the beta blog

↑ It is the first time I did this with the ass of a stranger ^^
I would say this brings me closer to expanding the Dirge Multiplayer Archive and in a way it does, but my prolonged unemployment is only becoming more evident in my wallet as time goes by. I don't have the money to pay translators. This may very well postpone the time of updates to the translated archive.
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Old 09/10/2017   #835
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The beta testing lasted from September 22 - October 31 in 2005. On October 18, a version update reads as follows from the official PlayOnline report.
■ロビーに新規NPCを追加しました。

(...)

■ We added a new NPC to the lobby.
I am unaware if this passage is ambiguous about singular or plural. But monster_78 writes this two days after the update.
追加NPCが4人なので、マスクは4種類あるのかな?

(...)

Because there are four additional NPCs, are there four kinds of masks?
Thusly I'm leaning towards four NPCs having been added with the October 18 update. Now, what's this talk about four kinds of masks?

As Kupoa reveals in one of their blogs concerning the October 18 additions, a new NPC in Area 1 gave out the classic "SOLDIER Mask".



This new NPC [新NPC] appears to be standing in the same spot as DGG Cataract would later do in the 2006 era. And guess what? FF Strategy Guides confirms that it was DGG Cataract who handed out the SOLDIER Mask in the β phase!

DGG Cataract, 2006 Era






With the October 18 update, reaching 10000 Unit/Squad/Troop Ranking Points would reward the unit members with a mask corresponding to the Area of Deepground their Unit/Squad was affiliated with. The true meaning of this affiliation is unclear, but Kupoa describes it as the unit's "base of operations". Maybe it is the area where the unit was created?

These are the areas, the corresponding masks and the NPCs who handed them out.

Area 1 (East Sector) → SOLDIER Mask → DGG Cataract
Area 2 (South Sector) → Moogle Cap → DGG Regis
Area 3 (West Sector) → Tonberry Cap → DGG Iruka
Area 4 (North Sector) → Chocobo Cap → DGG Jingi


Thusly, it is my conclusion that these are the four NPCs that were added with said version update along with the masks. This also becomes a way to date some screenshots from the 2005 era: If any of these four masks are shown, you know the screenshot was taken sometime between October 18-31.

It only dawned on me today just how few masks were available to players of the beta version. Initially only the standard "DG Soldier Mask" and the "Phantasmask" were available! The Gas Mask was only worn by the NPC West-D and there was no way to acquire it.

Even after the four new masks were added, chances were high you wouldn't get to wear all of them. Top-ranking units/squads had no trouble reaching 10000 Unit Ranking Points, but others like player monster_78 had to slave away for just over a week in order for him and his comrades to acquire the Chocobo Cap.




Kupoa's unit, "DC Yasiro", belonged to Area 1 and essentially became 'Team SOLDIER Mask'. For them, a squad that belonged among the top ten best units in the beta phase, acquiring the mask wasn't an overwhelming task.






The famous Team2ch unit belonged to Area 3 and so became a Tonberry team. Among the screenshots I have, the Moogle Cap is rarer than the other three and I don't know of a specific unit/squad that was affiliated with Area 2.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #836
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Let's have a look at the "Battle Entry" menu from different periods of time. Thanks to Joel and hito for doing the transcriptions of the Japanese text. =)


Battle Entry menu from 2005/beta, sometime in the first half of October.



Code:
バトルエントリー
BTモード TBTモード FAモード TFAモード MSモード すべてのリストを表示
(...) Battle Entry
BT Mode TBT Mode FA Mode TFA Mode MS Mode Show all lists
MS = Mission

You will notice that both FA modes are greyed out, showing that they could not be selected. This is congruent with a statement from Usaco's blog a few days after the beta testing had ended:
FAモードやショップ等実装されていないものがあったので、ただ単なる負荷テストとしか思わずにはいられません。

(Google Translate)

There were some items such as FA Mode and shops that were not installed, so we can not help thinking only as a load test.
Thusly it appears that FA Mode was never implemented.


Further detour about FA Mode

What was the FA Mode meant to be? Some of you may remember it from the beta installation screen.
Fortress Assault




FA(フォートレスアサルト)モードでは、それぞれが拠点として基地(ダンジョン)を持ちます。
敵の基地内に侵入し、心臓部であるコアを探し出して破壊することが、FAモードの勝利条件です。

(Google Translate)

In the FA (Fortress Assault) mode, each has a base (dungeon) as a base.
It is the victory condition of the FA Mode that invade into the base of the enemy and find the core which is the heart part and destroy it.
The description sounds very much like your standard base-battle, which was accessible via both BT and TBT mode even in the beta version. It is not clear if "Fortress Assault" was different in some way from normal base battles.

There are also two beta medals, never available to players outside of means like hacking or the game glitching, that reference FA Mode.

FA Clear Medal
A medal awarded to the player who infiltrates the base and destroys the core in FA mode.

Survival Medal
A medal awarded to the player who successfully occupies the area for a long period of time in FA mode.
FA Mode has only ever been mentioned in material from 2005 so we can safely say that the category, at least in name, was scrapped by 2006.



Moving on to the Battle Entry menu of the 2006 era, in a screenshot from the earliest weeks of the retail edition of the multiplayer.



Code:
バトルエントリー
初心者対戦 通常対戦 部隊対戦 ミッションを受ける 募集中のミッション
(Google Translate) Battle Entry
Beginner Match Regular Matchup Unit Battle Receiving Missions Recruiting Missions
"Unit Battle" is greyed out presumably because the player hadn't joined a Unit yet. My guess is that this is what the menu looked like for a beginner player. Notice that in the next screenshot which is from September 9, the options "Beginner Match" and "Recruiting Missions" are gone.



Code:
バトルエントリー
通常対戦 部隊対戦 エクストラ対戦 ミッションを受ける すべてのリストを表示
(Google Translate) Battle Entry
Regular Matchup Unit Battle Extra Match Receive Mission Show all lists
"Extra Match" (or "Extra Battle") was a mode added with the April 20 version update. This mode held a list of preset team battle conditions, such as doing battle where only the Broken Handgun could be used. I suspect this was a convenient mode as in it saved the trouble of a team leader having to decide on every individual battle restriction themselves. On top of that, victories and losses were not counted in this mode. Presumably this made Extra Match a good place for beginners to practice, without having to worry about their victory/loss quota reaching catastrophically bad levels as they were defeated by the veteran players. It is unknown whether this meant that Ranking Points also went unaffected.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #837
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In today's blast from the past: Promotional clips of Gackt aired roughly two months before the game's original release in Japan. They briefly show parts of the making of the "Secret Ending" cutscene. We can see Gackt's character performing a 180 spin that isn't used for the final cut. The scene where Gackt's hand is on his chest is also never used.

YouTube Video



YouTube Video



This website has five expired links to promo clips involving Gackt and this archived YouTube link previews a few promo videos that are no longer online.

If anybody has promo clips apart from those two embedded here, or have the embedded videos in higher quality, please send those my way. =)
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #838
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Blessed be blogger Y-i for actually replying to my inquiry about DCFFVII Multiplayer media and confirming they have nothing more to share. Everything they have is on the blog.
Y-i wrote: PC壊れたりでもう無いですね。

(Google Translate)

PC is broken, and it is not there anymore.
I am essentially finished with copying- and google translating the 2005-era blogs, ergo why I'm now moving on to the 2006 era blogs. Thankfully I am already done with copying the biggest blogs of this latter era (Cloze, DGYaco, Kupoa, Michui & monster_78), so this task won't be nearly as overwhelming as the β Version diaries.

Beyond the blogs, there are the chat rooms. I have already saved and copied the BBS (Bulletin Board System) chats/threads of DC-DATABASE.

The two primary Team2ch chats (Single Player and Multiplayer respectively) have now been archived in the Wayback Machine thanks to me, but with each thread often reaching their limit of 1000 posts and the 2ch DCFFVII Multiplayer chat having 44 threads that is A LOT of material. Thankfully even just translating samples have shown that these chat threads are filled with gold, so the effort will be worth it and contribute to our total knowledge of the online mode.

A more tedious challenge comes with their Single Player Mode chat, which survived through 64 threads and yes, most of them reached their post limit. As already confirmed by Tres way back, even this chat holds references to the online mode. Scouring through the Single Player chat will, eventually, be an important task.

There are many more 2ch threads related to specific aspects of Dirge of Cerberus, like a chat devoted simply to the dreamy (pun originally not intended, but now it is) Vincent Valentine. I have not saved these miscellaneous "fan club" chats/threads yet.

Don't worry about all these blog translation documents getting lost. I make sure to back these up since they take so many hours to make. The bigger risk is that some blog entries and/or chat rooms will go lost before I can save them via the Wayback Machine and copy them over to Excel.

To end this wall of text, have an old snapshot of Cait Sith teasing Arch Azul from the other side of a barrier that you need cheats to get behind.

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Old 5 Days Ago   #839
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Radigar has contributed with something that, despite my deep dives in the PlayOnline URLs in the Wayback Machine, I actually managed to miss! The "online verification tool" Square handed out so that people could check if their broadband was up to par for the Dirge of Cerberus Multiplayer.

Thanks to Radigar for sharing this discovery!

- http://www.playonline.com/dcff7/tool01.html

Click on 同意します [Agree] at the bottom left. The adjacent option 同意しません [Disagree] option will not lead you to the download. When clicking the correct option, you should be redirected to a new URL and then get the dcqc.exe file. However nothing will happen when you try to run the file.


By placing dcqc.exe in a hex editor and then viewing the text in Shift-JIS encoding in Notepad++, you can find the same Japanese "Software License Agreement" text that you can read in the link above.

Some other text strings found in the file.
This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
5/11/07 08:03:35 takemura Exp $ $Id: sqqcupnp.c,
v 1.26 2005/11/07 08:03:35 takemura Exp $ $Id: sqqcdownload.c,
v 1.29 2005/11/07 08:03:35 takemura Exp $ $Id: sqqcdownload.c,
v 1.29 2005/11/07 08:03:35 takemura Exp $ $Id: sqqcdownload.c,
v 1.29 2005/11/07 08:03:35 takemura
Radigar was able to extract some of the file's graphics


















The graphics reminded me of this image from when blogger kannushi used an online verification tool to check their broadband capabilities.




The graphics were not as similar as I remembered, but there may have been multiple versions of this verification tool (or the snapshot is from an internet browser window that the verification tool might have led you to).


I tried running the file in all compatibility modes available on my computer (Windows XP, Windows Vista etc) but the file remains closed.





Onto something completely different, this thread recently became the topic with most views in the "Post-Crisis Final Fantasy VII" forum section!


In second place now is the......"Love Triangle Spoiler Thread".
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