The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy VII

by Elentor

Part 110: Epilogue, Part I

Epilogue, Part I

This is the Epilogue chapter, a bit of a post-mortem. I'll give you my thoughts about this crazy ride in which we've been.

Some of the content in the epilogue

This Epilogue comes in two parts - this wall of text, and the next chapter which includes a huge infograph. I finished including all of Orange Fluffy Sheep's Low Level run into the index, and last but not least I included Tarepanda's annotations about the game's translation in a separate post, also included in the index, just as you guys requested years ago.

The Beginning

"Wait, there's no FFVII in the archives. What the hell?"

Back when I started it was somewhat popular to do comedy LPs with a more sarcastic tone. At the time I found some of those really good, and this comedy aspect kinda got me here. There were a lot of FF Let's Plays. Around the time TWD finished FFIX I realized no one had done a FFVII LP before and finished. FFVII was a game I knew fairly well, so I thought, why not? I posted a demo Chapter 1 to see the reactions.

Most people warned me that nobody wanted to do a FFVII LP because it was a bad idea, because it would probably be very hard to control spoilers, and FF threads tend to be problematic. This is easy to see why - Final Fantasy is a long series, people tend to strongly prefer whichever FF they played first and people like to be very vocal about which FF is better, and FFVII is particularly controversial by being adored by a fanbase that can be pretty bad. So it's a pretty easy to hate game, and I was just told that it'd be hard to make a non-comedy LP about a game that was widely considered to be overrated by the current generation/demographics.

Still, I felt like FFVII was a genuinely good game and people both hated and liked it mostly for the wrong reasons. I think these wrong reasons in this case were also the ones that more easily lended themselves to nostalgia and also the ones that made the EU mess possible. And that was the experience I had a few years before the LP, when I played FFVII again:

To me, FFVII, the game that I remembered was a cheesy game. The game that I was playing then seemed pretty good.

And most of the things that interested me now were things that I didn't remember at all. I disliked Aeris when I was 12 - now I found her character very interesting. I didn't care for the cool designs but I understood how they were part of this mythos and this fantasy to which I belonged to the demographics at the time. It was the way to grab my attention.

But the story connected with me and suddenly all of these things seem like the unnecessary fat. I was interested in the characters, and how they reacted to these things. And events that seemed dull to me when I was a kid made a lot more sense now. When I read about Nomura talking about how he wanted Aeris' death to be different from all the other deaths (and FF is infested with them) it made more sense to me, as an adult, why you'd want to express that in a way that is, at least in your mind, more genuine. Because we've lived enough to lose people.

So I wanted to make an LP of FFVII not as how we remembered, but as how I interpreted, as an adult. And while I can't say for the developers themselves, I at least wanted to offer my interpretation of what seemed intended. And to remember that these people, working behind the game, were not Cloud or Aeris, but real people who genuinely wanted to tell us something, whether that was a good or bad one.

Since I was mostly disappointed at all the generic and procedural stories that games and movies were throwing at us at the time, that in itself seemed more precious than ever. For what is worth, I do not think a good story is necessary or even a requisite in a game. I've always said that "if a game is good or engaging, the player will forgive everything, even a bad story". I also don't think game developers tend to explore the medium properly and while I have enjoyed some of the more cinematic games I think mimicing movies is not really the best way to do it. People like to joke about immersion, but I believe immersion is fairly important, and the game narrative can convey it without text. You understand what Mario and Sonic are from the background images, Tetris is presented as a straightforward puzzle, and Portal uses the game medium very well to convey a simple but effective story.

Final Fantasy VII is anything but simple and the translation wasn't exactly helping, but still, I liked what it conveyed, and felt it was worth giving a shot at LPing it.

On The Format

After the first 4 or so chapters, I outlined how I wanted to do the LP and wrote ideas. Most of the LP was planned well in advance. There were elements I knew I wanted to keep in the format:

1) The Boss Cards. Some were very boring to do, because there are so many bosses.
2) The End Images. At some point I realized I'd be doing them for every chapter. I planned some in advance, but they were also hard to do overall.
3) Every Boss would have a video.

Other than that some things were a bit more loose. I wanted chapters to have around 50 screenshots but that went up a bit over time. The idea was to stay between 50 and 100 but some chapters went overboard.

As to how I cut the chapters, I tried to cut them near the closest thing I could find to a cliffhanger or before a major chance in arc/scenery. That wasn't always possible, but sometimes I did an extra-long chapter just not to make the next one awkward.

Since this wasn't a video LP itself and the gameplay isn't exactly exciting I tried to be creative with the videos and find original and unusual ways to kill the bosses with the resources available at the time. This wasn't very consistent overall and I think I could have done a better job with the video production (which has always been messy for me, some of the volumes are uneven too) so I apologize for that. But yes, one of the things that was hard for me to figure out is - to whom I was showing the bosses? I realized they wouldn't be that interesting to new players so I instead tried to do creative things with them.

Some of the earlier bosses were very fun to do and some involved way more trouble than their videos might suggest. In particular:

I had this in mind that Carry Armor was very annoying to kill and a boss a lot of players (me included) hated, so I wanted to kill it in one turn for the sake of catharsis, without resorting to KOTR and stuff like that. Let's say it involved a lot of Excel and at some time I thought it wasn't possible, so I was super happy when it happened.

I think this was my favorite boss fight because everything just worked so well, and you don't get to use Confuse (or Loco Weeds, for that matter) on bosses every day.

Most of the bosses involved a lot of trial and error and being screwed by RNG. Even though the end result might not have been that great, I had fun in the process, and I hope some of you had fun watching them getting blasted too.

On the Content

As for the overall LP, I had some things in mind beforehand:

1) I would try to match the theme of my writing to the theme of the game. That means there would be a thematic shift because this game gets very depressive.

2) I'd try to be a bit completionist and show as much as I could. I failed at some parts (like the Corel Train) and I apologize for that. I'll be entirely honest: Most of the things I didn't show was because I fucked up the Save States. We're only human.

3) I wanted to do some bizarre chapters eventually. I didn't know exactly what at first. At around Chapter 40 I realized I had no idea how I was going to do the Temple of the Ancients which is both a maze and it bores me to death, so that was my first idea. I could make it shorter and more interesting by doing a homage to 90's magazines.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but that chapter took so long. I have a newfound appreciation for magazine editors. That shit was much more painful than I imagined it would be.

The other one was the Gelnika chapter. This one I had planned way beforehand. It was also very painful to do (felt like doing school homework again, working with all the paper, cutting stuff, etc) but I liked it. And it's filled with Easter Eggs, which I suppose fit the chapter thematically too.

There are plenty of Easter Eggs all over the LP. There are some Highwind pictures hidden in the Rio de Janeiro pics I posted. There's that hidden video early on where I talk over killing Aps. I don't remember all of them, but I had fun hiding stuff all over.

Like I said, most of the chapters were outlined very early on, so I knew the LP would last around 100 Chapters. I planned the route and what I would talk about. Sometimes when I had an idea I wrote it down to talk about it around Chapter __. I also had fun with the chapter titles so sometimes I'd go like "Oh yeah that's definitely gonna be the title for when they get to _____". They ended up mostly being music references anyway.

Things I would have changed

I tried to emphasize the soundtrack in the first chapters, but I would have definitely made links to the soundtrack something part of the format. Not that I don't love the soundtrack (I do) but I didn't expect such a reaction to the lack of it being something more regular. My bad.

In retrospective I think some guest writers could have been cool. I didn't think about that during the LP.

I do not regret the decision to write a SS LP as I think that was the best medium both for the game and for what I wanted to convey, so I would not have changed that if I had the chance to go back. But part of me wish I had instead made a VLP.

I wish I had made some more special chapters. They were a pain to make but very satisfactory at the end.

Also uh, I'm sorry for my Engrish. I know my English is far from perfect, but it's easy to forget a language if you're not practicing it constantly, which I'm not. I've never studied English formally so I know my wording can get messy from time to time. I apologize.

Cut-out content

Off the top of my head, the special battles at Gold Saucer and the aftermath of Corel if you let the train destroy the city. And beating Emerald Weapon as soon as you saw him. It was just long, boring and I'd be mostly copying other people's strategies, it just wasn't fun.

There were also things that I did not show because seriously - The Gold Saucer Fortune-Telling machine changes every now and then, and we skipped most of Fort Condor battles, I believe. They're not very interesting backtrackings most of the time.

I probably skipped some of the items you get at the excavation site, and maybe a few Summons and Limits. Otherwise, I think we got everything in, minus the Debug Room.

My Experience

I'll be honest, I was afraid I'd mess it up at first, and it wasn't a perfect LP, but I'm happy with the result. I had a lot of fun writing the Let's Play, though it did become a bit harder over time as we approached the end, once the meat of the story was done. I'm glad you all stayed with me, over the years.

I apologize for all the hiatuses. Some of it were me taking my time thinking of something to write next, some were me being a bit burned and needing a pause, and some were health issues, unfortunately. I'm happy we got through and finished it. And I guess with this one final post, it is 100% done at last. Hard to believe, right?

But overall, my experience was a blast. I had plenty of fun, and it fills me with joy that the thread was able to provide the same to some of you.

Over the course of the Let's Play a lot of things happened. We got a FFVII remake announced. Can you believe it? The thread went on long enough that a remake was announced. I mean, holy shit, how crazy is that? Seriously guys.

I'll tell you how crazy that is. Good or bad, we'll have to play it. And who knows of the future? I might end up LPing it .

The Thread

The start was a bit rough, but that wasn't exactly unexpected. We all knew there'd be a lot of spoilers and things wouldn't exactly start smooth in a FFVII LP thread. But after that things got progressively smoother - a little bumps here and there - but smoother.

At the end of the day, I think this was a most marvelous thread, and I'm really, really happy, to have been part of it. At times I was just happy to be able to read it, and a lot of interesting discussion happened in these hundreds of pages. I learned a lot about this game and other games overall, J-RPG or not, about Japanese culture, and about things in general.

People were impressed that we did manage to get to Aeris' death without spoiling to two people. I'm honestly more impressed that you guys managed to turn this into a Final Fantasy thread that was good to read. I actually had a lot of fun with the discussions you guys had over the past few years, and I thank you for it.

Final Words

I'd like to thank AbsoluteSteve for his incredibly complete guide. While I knew a lot of FFVII from memory, his guide was a great reference and it would be dishonest not to credit and thank him for his extensive work documenting the game. His site also contained all the item artwork that I used from time to time.

On a similar vein, I'd like to thank Terence Fergusson for the incredibly thorough data he gathered over this game. He pretty much exposed every game mechanic to such a high degree that his guides should be a reference to anyone learning this game. I cannot even imagine the work involved in doing so.

I'd like to credit a lot of my Let's Play to the LPers who inspired and influenced me. Protonjon was the original LPer that got me into it. Cybershell with his Sonic LPs was a huge influence with his very well produced boss intros and his production value overall. I think all screenshot FF LPers ended up influencing the next ones somewhat (and even The Tipping Forties' FFX Video LP seemed to be influencial in that aspect), so The White Dragon was definitely one of the more direct and recent influences now that I think in retrospective. My favorite Let's Player is definitely DocFuture with his very bizarre and deadpan humor and if there has ever been a single one LP that made me go "holy shit I hope I write a LP someday" it was Sonic 2 Special Edition.

And a lot of the Let's Play also belongs to you. A lot of the things that will be read later on in the archives by people finding it years from now that would be attributed to me, I'm dedicating this space to make sure that you all get your due credit. The hilarity of Screaming Idiot's drawings, small but great details like that part when Yuffie is upside down and then George suggested to invert the portrait, and the big overarching stuff like all the small critiques and suggestions you guys offered me over the years that helped me improve the Let's Play for all y'all.

I'd like to thank all the readers and mods from this forum who helped making this LP possible, and everyone who stuck with me over the course of this long Let's Play.

Thank you.