Letter to a Staffer – The Mystery of the Travelling Salesman

Posted By at 1:00 PM on Sunday August 19, 2012


Recently, I managed to track down the contact information of a number of game developers, in the hopes of respectfully asking them about longstanding gaming mysteries. Today, I share with you the results of my correspondence with a staffer that worked on FFVII. Like most things on the site, it’s been translated from Japanese. Let’s start by touching on the mystery in question.

The Travelling Salesman: Gongaga

In an exploration of FFVII, it has been discovered that the files for the town of Gongaga all contain the following pieces of unused text. Unfortunately, the game holds no instructions for when, how, or where the text is to be displayed. There is also no corresponding unused model for the salesman’s character. As a result, we don’t know which map he was meant to appear in, his appearance, or his name.

「わたしは、世界を旅する行商人。」 I’m a salesman who travels the world.
「このゴンガガ村の近くに I came because I heard that there was
 『大地をゆるがす力を持つマテリア』 Materia near Gongaga village with the
 があると聞いて、来てみたのだが……」 power to shake the earth…
「そんなわたしだが、むしょうに There are times when a guy like
 家族に会いたくなることがある」 me really wants to see his family.
「そこであなたに、たのみがある。 That’s why I have a favor to ask of you.
 どうかわたしの愛する奥さんに I want you to deliver this
 この手紙をとどけてもらいたい」 letter to my beloved wife.
「おねがいできるだろうか?」 Can you do it for me?
☞  手紙を受け取る ☞  Take the letter
☞  興味ないね ☞  Not interested

To quote Shademp in Part 7 of the FFVII Unseen series that concerns these unused aspects of the game, “If the content of the final game matches with what existed when this line was written, ‘Materia strong enough to shake the earth’ must be a reference to the Titan summon Materia found inside the ruined reactor.”

「わたしの愛する奥さんは My beloved wife
 カームの町に住んでいる。 lives in Kalm.
 どうか、よろしくたのむ」 I really appreciate this.

キーアイテム『奥さんへの手紙』を手にいれた! Received Key Item “Letter to a Wife”!

The response from picking “Not interested” implies a sense of doom, which hints that this quest was once meant to take place after the summoning of Meteor:

「なんということだ…… What’s that you say…?
 死が目前に迫っているこの世界では In this world come face to face with death,
 もはや人情もかれはてたか……」 has humanity already withered away…?

Letter to a Wife is a key item and can be unlocked in the menu via cheats. Its name and description are as follows:

奥さんへの手紙 Letter to a Wife

カームの町に住む奥さんにあてた手紙。 A letter addressed to a wife who lives in Kalm.

The Travelling Salesman: Rocket Town

The travelling salesman also has some unused lines in Rocket Town, but only in the Japanese game.

「わたしは、世界を旅する行商人。 I’m a travelling peddler.
 そんなわたしだが、むしょうに Despite my wandering, I wish
 家族に会いたくなることがある」 to see my family terribly.
「そこであなたに、たのみがある。 That’s where you come in.
 どうかわたしの愛する娘に I’d like you to find a way to deliver
 この手紙をとどけてもらいたい」 this letter to my beloved daughter.
「おねがいできるだろうか?」 Can you do it?
☞    手紙を受け取る ☞    Take the letter
☞    興味ないね ☞    Not interested.

Though his speech here is similar to what he said in Gongaga, it lacks a reference to “Materia strong enough to shake the earth”. If you were to take the letter, he might have said the following:

「わたしの愛する娘は My beloved daughter
 カームの町に住んでいる。 lives in the town of Kalm.
 どうか、よろしくたのむ」 I ask this of you.

キーアイテム『娘への手紙』を手にいれた! Received Key Item “Letter to Daughter”!

If you were to refuse:

「なんということだ…… What’s that you say…?
 死が目前に迫っているこの世界では In this world where death nips at your heels,
 もはや人情もかれはてたか……」 has even human kindness been exhausted?

“Letter to a Daughter” can also be unlocked in the Key Item menu via cheats. Its name and description are as follows:

娘への手紙 Letter to a Daughter

カームの町に住む娘にあてた手紙。 A letter addressed to a daughter living in Kalm.

The Letter

So, what was the reward for completing the sidequest? When was it to have taken place? Why was it cut? Curious, I posed these questions to the aforementioned staffer, who was kind enough to send a reply. The following excerpts have been reposted with permission:

“I think the travelling salesman’s Gongaga lines were created in order to inform the player of the Materia they could obtain in the ruins of the Mako Reactor close to the village.

Because the development of FFVII took place in such a short period of time, there’s definitely still data in the ROM that went unused for any number of reasons. By all rights, it should have been deleted, but because the size of the ROM would change once the data was removed, all the debug work we’d done up to that point would become useless. That meant that if a glitch occurred, our efforts would be unrecoverable. Therefore, a small quantity of flawed or stored data was left in place, just to be safe. (The Underwater Respiration Materia and Yuffie’s weapon, the Rising Sun, are famous examples of this.)

I believe that the text you’re asking me about was linked to this. I wonder if you’ll understand if I tell you that the reason it wasn’t used was due to the fact that we only had 5 months to implement the data in FFVII. I think that, perhaps, there wasn’t enough time to link it to the event it connected to, so it was cut.

I’m sorry to be so vague, but I don’t remember anything more than that, so I can’t give you a better answer. My apologies!”

In a second response, the staffer went into a little further detail on the making of FFVII and the future of JRPGs.

“FFVII took about a year to make, if you include the time we spent preparing the program. First, the programmers verified the viability of the technology (since this was our first PSX title), then, based on that, they would order the graphics data for the maps. Once a certain amount of images had been assembled, the staff would perform individual checks, and then input the data all at once. As a result, like the Legend of Zelda, the project didn’t go exactly according to plan. However, I feel that, if nothing else, no one could beat the enthusiasm the staff at the time had towards making a fun game.

These days, however, development staff have been focused on emphasizing their games’ presentation. Unfortunately, as a result, there aren’t any games being made that have the power to surpass FFVII. As hardware improves, it becomes very difficult to create JRPG-type games, so I think that’s one of the reasons JRPGs have been criticized as outdated and stale by the American game media. (Certainly, much as it pains me, I can’t help but observe that present-day Final Fantasy doesn’t compare to the visuals and real-time aspect of games like Uncharted and Call of Duty.)”

That’s all for now, folks. Tune in next time, maybe I’ll make this into a series.


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2 Responses

  1. Scientist says:

    No source?

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