DCFFVII Research Thread

JORG-exclusive Fire-&-Blizzard killchain-storage bug

After defeating an enemy you have five seconds to defeat another enemy if you want your killchain to be incremented. If you are playing on Hard mode (or Ex Hard) then receiving damage will cancel the current killchain, no matter if the damage is received within those five seconds or after.

Normally the power boost from a killchain is stored for use at ANY point, even when more than five seconds have passed since your last kill and you can't build the current chain any more.

In the original Japanese release of Dirge, the power boost from a killchain is NOT correctly stored when it comes to the magic spells Fire and Blizzard. If you use Fire or Blizzard AFTER the five-second countdown from your last kill, you can no longer benefit from the power boost of the killchain. You are back to normal, zero-chain power levels.

You will NOT experience this problem with Thunder magic, normal bullets, melee attacks (Vincent & Galian Beast) or even with Galian Beast's fire projectiles! This bug where the killchain boost is not properly stored only applies to Fire and Blizzard shots.

Thankfully, the power boost is always active so long as you shoot Fire or Blizzard within those five seconds from your last kill. So even if it takes your Blizzard projectile ten seconds to reach an enemy, the increase in power is still applied on the enemy so long as the shot was fired early enough.

This problem with Fire and Blizzard not correctly storing chain-power boosts was fixed for all later releases of Dirge.


Now, it IS possible in post-JORG releases to cancel the killchain power boost from Fire and Blizzard even after you've fired the shot. If you do anything to cancel your killchain while the Fire- or Blizzard projectile is in mid-flight, the power boost is removed and the magic shot gets reduced to 0-chain power levels. The same is true in the original Japanese version.

Fascinatingly enough, this "cancel-power-boost mid-flight" does NOT work with Galian Beast's fire projectiles. Further proof that depending on your attack type, different killchain mechanics are applied.

------​

The way this affects my strategy is how I deal with Deepground Elite soldiers. These are the soldiers that maintain a shield that protects against normal bullets, so your only options are melee, magic and/or shoot the enemy during a brief window when you've knocked them to the floor. If you're going with magic then Blizzard Lv1 is the most versatile, since it will require only either one or two shots to destroy a DG Elite. Each of these soldiers has 700 HP.

Blizzard Lv1 damage output on DG Elite based on killchain
0-chain: 458 dmg
1-chain: 593 dmg
2-chain: 728 dmg

Fire Lv1 and Thunder Lv1 damage output on DG Elite based on killchain
0-chain: 203 dmg
1-chain: 263 dmg
2-chain: 323 dmg
3-chain: 383 dmg
4-chain: 442 dmg
5-chain: 602 dmg
6-chain: 801 dmg

Blizzard is definitely the preferred magic here because all you need are three previous kills to one-shot the DG Elite. But because of the bug where the killchain-boost is not properly stored I can't always one-shot a DG Elite. So the preferred method usually becomes knock-down melee followed by a shot to the head. Whenever I do use Blizzard Lv1 though it requires careful planning so that I can make use of a 2-killchain within five seconds and not mess it up by getting injured and thus having the chain cancelled. Quite a precarious situation and I'm happy they fixed the killchain-storage bug post-JORG...even though that has no bearing on my current gameplay predicament. :wacky:

Upgrading your magic to Lv2 or Lv3 is usually not worthwhile both due to the increased MP consumption and because the increase in power is not dramatic enough. Even the official Japanese guide, on page 157, recommends that you keep magic at Lv1 when you encounter the Deepground Elite in Chapter 10.
 
The faulty killchain-storage is actually something I've been 90% certain of since I played the original JP version three years ago but it's only just recently that I've taken a deeper look at this bug and confirmed it 100%. I noticed three years ago how disappointingly weak Fire magic was even when I had a huge killchain. Along with this I observed a difference with the visual indicator for the current status of your chain.

When a chain is active the bottom left text changes from "ITEM" to "CHAIN". When the chain deactivates it changes back to "ITEM". When you shoot a Fire or Blizzard shot in JORG, you'll notice the indicator changing to "ITEM" the instant that you press L1 to use magic.

->


Meanwhile in the post-JORG versions, you'll see that the killchain indicator has the text "CHAIN" remain after the magic shot is fired (along with the golden bar that indicates how big your chain is). As far as magic goes, this becomes the indicator that the killchain remains properly stored even after the first five seconds since your last increment to the chain.

->


As I divulged in my previous post however, Galian Beast's fire projectiles don't follow the same rules. Even if you've cancelled your killchain while Galian Beast's fire projectile is still mid-flight (and the text has changed from CHAIN to ITEM) the power boost is STILL valid for the projectile you fired earlier.


While on the topic, here is a list of the damage multiplier/coefficient value for your power increase with each chain.

Code:
Chain - Multiplier
0     0
1     30
2     60
3     90
4     120
5     200
6     300
7     400
8     500
9     600
10    700
11    800
12    900
13    1000
14    1100
15    1200
16    1300
17    1400
18    1500
19    1600
20    1700
21    1800
22    1900
23    2000
24    2100
25    2200
26    2300
27    2400
28    2500
29    2600
30    2700
31    2800
32    2900
33    3000
34    3100
35    3200
36    3300
37    3400
38    3500
39    3600
40    3700
41    3800
42    3900
43    4000
44    4100
45    4200
46    4300
47    4400
48    4500
49    4600
50    4700
51    4800
52    4900
53    5000
54    5100
55    5200
56    5300
57    5400
58    5500
59    5600
60    5700
61    5800
62    5900
63    6000
64    6100
65    6200
66    6300
67    6400
68    6500
69    6600
70    6700
71    6800
72    6900
73    7000
74    7100
75    7200
76    7300
77    7400
78    7500
79    7600
80    7700
81    7800
82    7900
83    8000
84    8100
85    8200
86    8300
87    8400
88    8500
89    8600
90    8700
91    8800
92    8900
93    9000
94    9100
95    9200
96    9300
97    9400
98    9500
99    9600
100   0
I do not know the damage formula in which this value is used, but knowing these values it's easy to find the proper address in RAM for manipulating the current killchain power level.

When the counter for your nth killchain counts to 100 it immediately goes back down to zero, along with the damage multiplier. So the only way to get a killchain power level higher than 9600 is with cheats.
 
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Work is underway on Ch10-4. I have pinned down the most essential strategies, now it's mostly a matter of replaying the section over and over. For reasons of health I am not jumping into the grinder just yet. Completing the three earlier parts of Chapter 10 has caused some fatigue and I am being careful not to hurt my mental health like I did three years ago. My goal is to clear Ch10-4 before the release of FFVIIR. Here's hoping they don't release an FFVIIR demo in March to distract me. :monster:

To compensate for lost time I've also made some plans and strategies for Chapter 11. I should remind myself to do the same for Chapter 12 so that once I reach those stages many of the preparations will already be complete.

It's also fun in the meantime to do some deep transcription dives into the official JP guide. Long ago I found a discrepancy between the guide and the game, one where the guide refers to two Guard Hounds in Ch2-2 but which never appear in-game. I speculate thusly that the code is there for the Guard Hounds to appear but that some bug prevents them from spawning.

There is a similar discrepancy on page 182 which refers to the number of Deepground Elite soldiers that spawn in the room with the final G Report. The Deepground Elite spawn indefinitely but there is a limit to how many DG Elite are allowed to be present at any given time.


安全第一 "Safety First"

According to page 182 of the official JP guide, the number of Deepground Elite that can be present in the area changes depending on the difficulty mode.
EASY - 2 DG Elite​
NORMAL - 3 DG Elite​
HARD - 4 DG Elite​

The actual game lines up with what's said about Easy and Normal, but Hard mode still only ever allows a maximum of 3 DG Elite soldiers to be spawned and present.

Possible reasons for this error would be faulty/incomplete code, the guide writers making assumptions or the design documents (on which the guide may be based) being outdated. Perhaps at one point 4 DG Elite were planned to roam this space in Hard mode, but it was deemed too overkill by the playtesters and so the max was capped at three instead of four.

The DG Elite can spawn from four different doors and the difficulty mode locks from which doors they appear. The remaining door(s) become unused.

Easy mode spawn doors:


Normal- and Hard mode spawn doors:




On to something completely different, I made a chart of how Vincent's maximum speed changes depending on how heavy his equipment is. Consider it a continuation from this old post.

DCFFVII_weight-momentum_diagram.png

A unit of 1 weight equals to the menu value of "30 WT" (at least as far as Single Player items is concerned). Neither the momentum speed nor the actual weight value (independent of "WT" as displayed in the menu) are ever written out to the player.

These diagrams amuse me. The game is lenient to provide "platforms" where during certain weight intervals there will be no change to your speed. The length of the highest platform in the post-JORG game is just ridiculous and shows how difficult it is to even notice the slow-down mechanic in that version of Dirge.
 

Odysseus

Re:branded
AKA
Ody
Hey Shad, this has nothing to do with your masochistic dirge playthrough, but I was wondering if you had a clear picture of the images on the door behind Cid on the Shera? I'm staring at them on my TV right now trying to make out what they are. I see one is the world map, one is the bikini girl logo from the side of the highwind, there's the highwind itself, one of the Rocket, and one of the hall inside the rocket that's the background of the map rcktin3 from the original. There's one more picture on the far left I can't quire make out because its too dark. I think it might be his CG promo art from the original, but I can't quite tell.
 
Digging the new avatar pic, @Odysseus.

Thank you so much for making me look into this. I was able to confirm additional facts by revisiting daemon1's texture extraction tool. The Shera has 81 texture files and only 37 of these can be properly ripped with the current edition of daemon1's tool. Fortunately, two of these 37 contain the most juicy textures.

file3302_z137y_do.png

file3304_z137y_ma.png

Let's dive into these!



From top to bottom...

- Highwind promotional art
The extracted texture from Dirge is 33x44 pixels. The Highwind is on its side but flipped correctly for the game. Let's do the same and enlarge it to four times the size.


- Interior of Rocket ship, field "rcktin3"

- The "High Wind" Lady Luck.
The lady exists in higher texture on the Shera deck floor. This texture used for the floor could not be extracted with daemon1's tool.


Enlarged "door-version" of the texture.



- Rocket ship control panel, field "rcktin5"
Much of the image is obscured, but here is an enlarged version of the extracted texture.



- Exterior of Rocket base, field "rcktbas1"

- Familiar overworld map of FF7 but on a light-brown piece of paper. The texture is 56x44 pixels. Here it is enlarged to 224x176.


This map appears both behind Cid and elsewhere in the same room.



The right photo is a sneakily placed Tiny Bronco, from the FF7 field files "rckt3" and "rckt32" (these two fields are identical).


The Dirge texture is 32x43 pixels. Here it is flipped and enlarged.



The left photo is not from any familiar FF7 material.



It seems to depict four-or-five people standing in front of a house. A heart is painted on top of what looks like a stylized word. Likely related to Shera, Rocket Town residents and/or other family of Cid's.






This looks like the classic picture taken by astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt from 25,000 miles above the Earth aboard Apollo 17 in December, 1972. Here in Dirge it's upside down.



If we were to pretend it wasn't a photo of Earth we could pretend it's a picture of the FF7 world as taken from space when Cid, Cloud, optional party member and Shera went there in the original game.





Because of the light effects, stretched textures and metallic halos around the globe (and the fact that only the upper half of the globe is visible) it can be very difficult to make out what you are seeing. Thanks to the extracted texture it becomes a bit easier.

The globe allows you to see everything within what I've marked in red below. Everything outside is never shown, including the compasses and much of the lower half and/or lower third of the map.



The half-transparent textures that almost looks like new landmasses are probably clouds. When the texture is stretched in-game they at the very least look way more like clouds.

- Download link to the extracted 37 texture files
 
Ah yes, the Potoin.

The Potoin...
- Restores 1 HP.
- Can be sold for 10 gil.
- Only two can be found in the entire game. One in Ch10-3, one in Ch10-4.
- A maximum of two Potoins can be carried at a time.
- The Japanese item is called "ボーション", which may translate as "Botion". Ergo the only spelling difference compared to the Potion is the first katakana: ポーション.
- Takes up needless space in your inventory and fools the player.

Nothing in the official Japanese guide reveals any special significance or special use. It is merely a joke item that trolls the player. If you are using restoratives while in a tough spot and running low on HP, using the Potoin/Botion instead of a Potion may catch you off-guard and lead to an accidental Game Over because you didn't restore enough HP in time.

For S rank in the "Items Used" category you need to use 13 items or fewer in Chapter 10. Being the longest chapter in the game with many powerful enemies it can be particularly difficult to achieve high ranks in "Items Used" in Ch10. The guide recommends that you avoid using items that only recover a small amount of HP, like the normal Potion that only restores 200 HP, and reserve yourself to using greater restoratives and only when necessary. The Potoin only serves to worsen the player's "Items Used" rank if they end up using one or both of the Potoins.

In my first couple of playthroughs I felt compelled to collect both Potoins and keep them in my inventory because of how unique they are but in later years I've simply sold them or avoided them.



Briefly revisiting the Shera graphics: One of the flashy screens in the room with the changing floor and ceiling uses this interesting texture.



There is what looks like a subway platform and then to the left of it is...

...the continents of Earth! Along with hints of familiar flags at the bottom. :monster:

If you play the game on emulator and with the brightness lowered, you can JUST BARELY spot North America and South America. But unless you already know what you are looking for you are unlikely to ever spot it.

I haven't booted up my console to check how visible this texture is on that medium but given how the image is always many times blurrier on console I'm going to assume that you can't spot this real-world reference there.
 
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Odysseus

Re:branded
AKA
Ody
American Express in FFXV, and now the entire real world map in dirge... what does it mean?

Chapter 10 of Dirge is striking me as odd compared to other stages now that I'm playing it again. It has a lot of tricky little puzzles that no other stage has like the key card puzzle or that little three part hall with the random obstical (floating mines, endless explosive barrels being thrown in the window.) It also has things like the Cactuar, and its the only stage in the game where vincent has audible reactions to things happening around him, and off course, the potoin. It all just feels a little different from the rest of the game, I wonder why?
 
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Odysseus

Re:branded
AKA
Ody
Too bad we'll probably never get an HD port. People like to rag on it a lot, but the game is actually really fun (that might be my inexperience with other shooters talking though.) I feel like the art direction is underappreciated too. For how dull the rest of the compilation is, Dirge has some very nice looking environments. Deep Ground especially is extremely interesting to look at, there's so much implied world building without them even needing to say anything.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
The Japanese item is called "ボーション", which may translate as "Botion". Ergo the only spelling difference compared to the Potion is the first katakana: ポーション.
they do the same switch in other games to denote fakes, the most famous maybe being エクスカリパー instead of エクスカリバー, or サテンダー

i think the original ffxiv had チョコポ? but that was just because the original ffxiv was a mess
 
Fret not for my break from all S ranks, for the promise I made to myself remains: The challenge will be completed before the end of year 2020.

One thing that's easier to revisit from time to time are my transcriptions of the "DIRGE of CERBERUS - FINAL FANTASY VII - OFFICIAL COMPLETE GUIDE". I find this monotonous task to be a therapy of sorts (but it can also become unhealthy escapism). Today marks when I finally completed transcribing the entirety of the online multiplayer section: Pages 236-251.

- Download link to Excel document and scanned pages
*EDIT: Filled in more blanks in the screenshot text and re-uploaded the file.

With the exception of some symbols I can't discern in the gameplay screenshots, everything has been transcribed and run through google translate.

Apart from this I have also transcribed the entirety of the developer interviews + Q&A from pages 288 - 295, many pages from the Single Player section (in particular guides about the bosses) and miscellaneous pages of interest to me. I estimate I must have transcribed roughly 8-10% of the book by now. :wacky:
*EDIT: I do not employ OCR (Optical Character Recognition) since that technology is too imprecise. All transcription is done manually.

I should begin focusing on the DoC beta manual since that one contains many juicy early-development screenshots- and text.

One thing I noticed right now to my absolute shock is that both my copies of the original JP release are missing the manual! I have low-quality scans of the manual on my computer but I managed to miss out on it in both my purchases of the game. :lol:
 
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Nobody in Deepground seems to understand.
I'm not locked in here with them.
THEY'RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME!



JORG - Hard Mode - Vincent Lv1 - Chapter 10: Shinra's Dark Secret

ALL S RANKINGS


Activate English subtitles for video commentary.








Compare the results above with the minimum requirements:
Targets Destroyed - 280 or more
Accuracy Rate - 55% or higher
Damage Sustained - 15999 or less
Critical Hits - 60 or more
Killchains - 150 or more
Items Used - 13 or fewer
Limit Break Used - 8 times or more
Mako Collected - 90% or more
Times KO'd - 0
Time Expired - Less than 66 minutes 40 seconds​


Stage Missions:
- Eliminate the pursuers! : 10 out of 10 targets
- Swiftly neutralize the enemy onslaught! : 119 seconds or less
- Defeat 100 enemies! : 80 or more



The longest chapter in Dirge of Cerberus...is over.
 
ZZ_Yoshi achieved the first sub-1:40 in Dirge of Cerberus, Ex-Hard Any% four days ago. Wishing it was easier to get in touch with ZZ_Yoshi so I could inform them about tiny optimizations like how to run straight through this room in Chapter 9. The only way would be to write in their viewer chat on Twitch. But I don't want to turn on e-mail notifications for when the people I follow are playing. :wacky:


Additional Ch10-4 notes

- Observe in my recording that after selecting Ch10-4, gameplay immediately starts without skipping a cutscene...because there simply isn't any cutscene here to skip. However, in some playthroughs (when entered from the checkpoints menu) you will experience that Ch10-4 always begins with this cutscene where Vincent looks back at Nero's darkness and then turns away.

I have ruled out this no-intro-cutscene being a version difference. Rather, it must be happening because of something more obscure. Your memory card save clearly has the power to affect which cutscenes play (and like in the case of a corrupted save, causing a cutscene in Ch11 to be unskippable). My only guess so far is that sometimes when you clear Ch10-3 the game will save early before a flag for "cutscene watched" has been raised. Other times the game save will happen after this flag is set, thus resulting in you never having to see the cutscene when you select Ch10-4. This feels somewhat intuitive considering the game's natural loading-time variations of ± 0.33 seconds.

Tangentially, this variation in loading time may also be why *sometimes* you can skip the "cutscene" that begins Ch5-3. Roughly half the time, speedrunners are able to get an additional "skip cutscene" button prompt and thus skip this brief scene when Vincent is frozen and the elevator closes.


- There are two spots where you can watch the environment load in and out, no matter which version of DoC you are playing. Same thing happens on console and on emulator.

Here you can see how the floor loads in and out. When the floor is gone you can see the building walls and windows on the other side.

Here some debris (and less easy to spot, some boxes on the area that you later traverse through) loads in and out very obviously. You can also see here how the point of loading in these objects changes slightly depending on if you are in third-person or using the sniper scope.


- Normally when the game is tasked with loads of objects and effects, the only consequence is (usually) that you'll lose some frames when you spin the camera quickly. Any place with one or more EM barriers is prone to this and a resource-heavy area like the Shera is also prone to loss of frames, even on console. In Ch10-4, these stairs at 3:06 always cause the game to start sweating. The worst spot is when I turn quickly to snipe the DG soldier who is above the exploding drum can (3:10). During this quick camera turn the game would often lose frames and I'd end up tilting the analog stick for too long. The result being that I zoom in far away from where the enemy is, become disoriented and lose so much time relocating the enemy that I can't continue building the killchain.

With relative frequency, parts of the environment would sometimes even load out and in for a few frames while I ran up and down the stairs. I have not been able to replicate this in the post-JORG releases.









- More than the environment briefly disappearing, I experienced that the Fire Lv1 shot at the drum can would UNLOAD in mid-air, thus missing the drum can, then loading back in and exploding in the horizon. This would always happen when I fired the magic shot, zoomed out again and then ran down the stairs. Even when my aim was perfect, the very act of zooming out and running down these load-sensitive stairs would undo my Fire spell.


That's why in my final recording, at 3:14, I wait until the Fire spell makes contact with the drum can before I zoom out again. It was after I had established this routine that I never experienced again that the collision/hitbox/whatever-box of the Fire spell unloaded in mid-air.


- The DG Commanders fall over pretty easily in the Japanese original. In later versions they will almost always stand upright even if they survive after a headshot. This may be because the commanders were buffed up and/or Vincent's rifle was nerfed.


- Notice how Vincent loses all forward momentum and falls straight down at 13:25 and 15:10 . In the case of these ledges, which have ladders attached to them (I almost used the term "laddered" to describe that these ledges have ladders, but thankfully I googled what that term actually means :lol:), Vincent will fall down in this way if you approach the ledge/ladder from certain angles. Thankfully the other ledges don't work this way and there is no risk of you accidentally missing the cardkey at 15:11 by losing forward momentum and becoming "attached" to the ladder.

In all later versions of Dirge, these two ledges were fixed so Vincent's forward momentum is preserved and he never ends up hugging the ladder. The game just has so many tiny differences like these between JORG and post-JORG.
 
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Researching the Ch10-4 intro cutscene (see my notes in the post above) it turns out the responsible flag is Global Flag #18.
- If the value is set to 0, then the intro cutscene will play.
- If the value is set to 1, then the intro cutscene will not play and you'll skip straight to gameplay.

Accordingly, I can use my save editor to switch whether a given save file plays this cutscene or not.

Is Global Flag #18 a universal "skip introductory checkpoint cutscene" switch? No. I tested changing this value for a dozen checkpoints and normally no cutscenes were skipped. The exceptions were Ch4-2 and Ch5-2. Not even the Ch5-3 elevator scene could be skipped this way. Some bugs occurred with Ch4-3 and Ch4-4 when this flag was on.

In other words it is very much a context-heavy switch and I have not pinned down its exact intended function.
 
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