*Temporary edit by Aleron Ives*
Since BlueCrab seems to be dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, I sadly must make this edit for him instead. A serious bug has been discovered in the loader disc which causes problems like those associated with the Utopia boot disc. You can’t target enemies with Rafoie, you can’t use Shifta and Deband on other players, and other things. Please don’t try to download it until a solution is devised. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news…
*The original post follows*
So, I had posted on my Twitter a few weeks back about a big announcement coming up with regard to PSO, and I’m finally ready to make that announcement. I probably would have waited a bit, since I really wanted to have the news available in Japanese as well, but various circumstances happened, and I’d rather get this out now than wait any more.
As you probably know (if you play PSO on the Dreamcast), several versions of the game (USv2, JPv1, and JPv2) are reliant on a specific Sega server that no longer exists called the Hunter’s License server. Well, long story short, with a lot of research and studying, I was finally able to defeat that check to get those versions back online. I’ll go further into details on this a bit later in the post, but there is more to the announcement before that.
You may have noticed (if you play PSO on the PC as well) that Sylverant’s patch server has been sending out updated versions of the PSO binaries that have a fix for some maps in Ultimate mode integrated. This fix, which enables a few maps in Ultimate mode that Sega seems to have forgotten in v2, was up until this point only available for PSO for PC. Well, now I can say that it is also available for the Dreamcast versions of PSOv2 as well (US, Japanese, and European), thanks again to Aleron Ives’ work (and some of my own).
Both of these patches, as well as a patch to force PSO to connect to sylverant.net directly (so you don’t need to use the DNS trick with a BBA or a nasty Codebreaker code with dialup) have been integrated into a program that I’ve written for the Dreamcast that I’m calling Sylverant PSO Patcher. Sylverant PSO Patcher effectively acts as a boot-disc for PSO (legitimate GD-ROMs only — it does not and will not ever work with CD-R copies), that will automatically patch the game and launch it.
The Connecting to Sylverant page (the “Connect” link in the menu) has been updated to reflect how to connect to the server with the newly supported versions, both using Codebreaker and using Sylverant PSO Patcher.
More details are available if you wish to continue reading…
First, more about the Hunter’s License server part of the announcement. When Sega still hosted PSO servers, the Hunter’s License server was responsible for verifying whether or not you had paid your monthly fee for the game. The connection that the game made to the server was encrypted with SSL, and thus nobody could ever reverse engineer the HL server. Thus, since it wasn’t defeated in any other way, and nobody knew exactly how it worked, all versions of the game that were reliant on that server were effectively rendered inoperable by Sega’s shutdown of the server. I had decided early on in Sylverant’s life that at some point I would like to figure out how to defeat the HL server check. However, I didn’t really ever think to heavily about doing it up until a few weeks ago. I then took the Japanese copy of PSOv1 that I had, and studied it a bit. After a bit of tracing and some luck, I found out what needed to be changed in the game to disable the HL check once and for all. Then, after being provided with some data by Aleron Ives (half of which was provided to him by Lee), I found that the same patch (albeit in a different location in the game) would work on both of the other two versions that had HL server checks (USv2 and JPv2).
Next, onto the Ultimate mode map fix… Sega basically made a rather silly mistake in the code for PSOv2 (all versions), and with Sylverant PSO Patcher, we were able to fix it. PSO has a table of maps embedded in the code. It has various pointers to sub-tables and eventually all the filenames of maps in the game. Well, when Sega was adding in Ultimate mode, they somehow forgot to include 4 maps (one on each of Cave 1, Cave 3, Mine 1, and Mine 2). Aleron Ives figured out how to fix the problem on the PC version of PSO a little while back, and we began providing fixed binaries through the game’s patch server. Unfortunately, the same method of patching it didn’t work on the Dreamcast version, as the binary was a lot more tightly packed. That essentially meant that we actually had to relocate parts of the table outside of the table to fit the extra data in. We initially tried this with a really long Codebreaker code, but somewhere along the line that didn’t work properly. Since I was already working on Sylverant PSO Patcher, we tried by using it, and it actually worked! Thus, all versions of PSOv2 can now benefit from the map fix patch that Aleron Ives worked on (once again, with data provided, in part, by Lee).
Finally, one last note that isn’t really mentioned in the earlier parts of the news post… Through the testing that we have done, we’ve noticed that the Japanese release of PSOv1 is a lot more buggy than the later versions. We’ve found a few bugs that essentially made it impossible to use, even with the Hunter’s License check disabled (which is why Japanese v1 players couldn’t ever connect to schtserv when the server was still up). Well, I can say that as we found these bugs, I fixed them in Sylverant’s code. So, the Japanese version of PSOv1 should work just fine on Sylverant at this point. Know that it still may have more bugs that we haven’t encountered yet, so it may not work quite as well as the other/later versions of the game. If you encounter any bugs with the Japanese version of PSOv1, please report them!
Anyway, I think I’ve blabbed on for long enough at this point, so I’m going to cut this off at this point. Thanks for reading this far, if you made it all the way to this point.