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Using Online mode in Phantasy Star Online (Gamecube version)

Started by gameblabla, September 26, 2019, 01:31:40 pm

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gameblabla

Phantasy Star Online, one of Sega's introduction to online multiplayer games on video game consoles and probably one of the first ones.
It was renowned for being quite addicting and reviving the series, though in a different route than most expected.

The game was first released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2 versions. V1 came out first in late 2000 while v2 came out the year after.
It was later ported to the Gamecube as PSO Episode I and II and also to the Original Xbox.
It was also ported to Windows first in Japan only in late 2001 and later revised as the ultimate version, PSO Blue Burst, in 2004 in Japan and 2005 in North America.

The official servers later died first in 2003 for Dreamcast, then later in 2007 for other versions.
However, all versions (except the Xbox version) are now supported by private servers, whenever it be Sylverant or Schthack.
I prefer to use Sylverant because it's simplier and has less issues. (they insist you on having original keys)

I'm assuming we'll use the Gamecube version here : this version has some graphical effects that are missing in the Xbox/PC version.
Another advantage is that you can use either a Wii or Wii U together with Nintendont and its BBA emulation to go online.

Gamecube version

Preparations

Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II can be very expensive online, at least 20$. The Plus edition (NA and JP only) is even more so and can cost in the hundreds...
I stuck with the non plus edition and it's fine for the most part... you can also download Plus only quests online anyway plus some extra ones.

Just make sure it has the manual ! The serial number and access key is written on it. I learned it the hard way unfortunately...
This is the same for Episode 3 btw.

If like myself you got the game without a manual (i just got the box and disc) then you can attempt to generate your own.
Just make sure to enter it ingame first before putting them in Sylverant or Schthack !
You need to make sure your serial, access and guildcard is valid !

Guildcard is 5 numbers, Serial is 10 numbers and Access key is 12 numbers.

Now you have several ways :
- Use an actual Gamecube along with a BBA.
The BBA can be very expensive (much like the Dreamcast's own BBA) but it has very low latency, which may be ideal for Mario Kart DD.

- Use a Wii with Nintendont.
This is the cheapest way to get PSO GC up and running. A wii can be found for as low as 20$.
Just avoid the Wii mini as it has too many limitations and shortcomings.

- Use a Wii U with Nintendont.
This may be the most ideal solution (especially with HDMI out). However, it has been reported that using it with WiiVC (with Gamepad support) does not work.
It's a shame because it limits its potential as the most ideal solution for PSO.

- Use Dolphin + OpenVPN.
I would not recommend this because it's tricky to set up and there's Blue Burst which is superior in most ways but it's there
if you want to play with GC players for example.


I'm going to assume that you'll use a Wii with Nintendont installed. Make sure you install the homebrew channel with Mailbomb or a savegame exploit like Super Smash bros Brawl.
You'll also need to dump your disc with CleanRip : it is available for the Wii and will also work in vWii for the Wii U.
You might also want to patch your game especially if you use the european version as it does not support progressive mode :
https://psopalace.sylverant.net/downloads_gamecube.html

Setting up Nintendont

You can choose to put your iso either to an SD card or a USB drive/key. You can also use the original disc too. (although i don't recommend it because you'll end up wearing it down in the long term, you should really use cleanrip and dump it).

Press B on your ISO or the game disc option (depending on your wishes) and make sure the BBA option is set to On and Channel to Auto.
You might also want to increase the emulated memory card size to 2043 unofficial to download plenty of quests and stuff but sticking with the default is less risky.
On the Wii U and Wii Family edition, you must use the Emulated memory card option because they lack Gamecube ports for memory cards.

Once done, you can run the game. If you are using an unpatched US/JP of PSO, you may need to hold the B button for progressive mode.
Using the option to force progression does not work for the PAL version, you must use the patch from PSOPalace for that. (which means you can't use the official disc for forcing progressive mode)

When the game boots up to the first time, it might ask you to fix the calendar. It shouldn't go back to the Gamecube screen especially if you don't have the IPL image !
Just refuse to fix the calendar and boot right up to the game.
Sometimes it could still refuse to boot if you don't patch PSO (PAL version at least) so that's worth trying.


Setting up the server

Nintendont emulates the BBA, which makes things a bi easier compared to Devolution and its use of the modem.
Go to (Titlescreen) Options -> Network Option -> Provider Option and select "YES".

If it asks you to use Slot A then say "YES".
Now go to "Network Setup". Then select a provider from the menu list.
It should be "Provider 4" by default.

Select Edit and make sure it has the following settings :
- Connection settings : Automatically obtain an IP address (DHCP) (if it is static, then adjust accordingly)
- Line timeout (minutes) : Automatically disconnect 99

Then there's the DNS part, which can dependant on your server.
I'm assuming you want to connect to Sylverant but check with your server's which IP you should use.
- DNS Server address :
Primary DNS : 138.197.20.130
Secondary DNS : (Leave blank)

- DHCP Hostname : Not Set

This is sometimes used for the screenshot functionality.
It seems that it doesn't work properly with Nintendont so leave it off.
- Proxy server address : Blank
- Proxy port number : blank

Then you can save your settings.

Setting up the Serial/Access

When you create a new character in "Online", it should ask you for the Serial number and Access key.
See well above about that

After you typed them in, make sure to type them in your profile settings in your server as well.
If everything is done correctly, it should connect to the server and you can choose a ship.

Conclusion

Before the Nintendont BBA branch, there was Devolution which supported this functionality.
However :
- It was closed source. You could not add new controllers, nothing.
- It had a very annoying DRM mechanism, which makes it impossible to use on the Wii U for that reason because the console can't read GameCube disc.
it will be never fixed because its main author decided to be an ass about it. I'm glad Nintendont finally added this functionality.
- It emulates a modem rather than a BBA. As a result, downloading quests is much slower than Nintedont.

It does however support USB keyboards as well as the screenshot functionality. The former may not be an issue if you have the ASCII gamecube controller but few people do.

Anyway, Nintendont has many other advantages (and options) so it is safe to say that you can throw Devolution to the garbage and enjoy PSO for real.

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