Friday, May 6, 2022

[Part Five] The Secret of Miao Village: Temple Content Left Behind

Welcome to Part Five of our analysis of cut-content screenshots of the mysterious "Miao Village" and temple that were revealed in 2002 on the website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis
  5. Temple Content Left Behind [this post]
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
  8. Dialogue Revelations & Sequence of Events
  9. Dialogue Revelations & Sequence of Events (Cont.)
  10. Extra Dialogue & Facts Collected
In this post, we will gather together any content to be found among the disc files that may have once been part of the temple location seen in the screenshots.

Name of the Temple

Just as an unused "Miao Village" loading screen was uncovered by fans (see Part Two), a second unused loading screen was also found that provides the name of this temple. If running a build of Shenmue II that has a debug menu, this can be viewed by setting the area code to SMMK:
Debug menu: settings for displaying the temple loading screen

Doing so will display the following loading screen, which has the name "Miao Guang Temple" (as with the Miao Village loading screen, it fails to continue past this point):

The Miao Guang Temple loading screen (the time and date are default values)

The area code for this loading screen, SMMK, matches the four-character prefix seen in the filename for the object model representing the red-cover version of the Wulinshu (seen in Ryo's hands in the temple screenshot), confirming that it is the same temple.

Next, we'll look for models of objects or buildings on the disc. You may recall that Part Two's earlier investigation into the village screenshots turned up fragments of village houses actually included in the released game in an unexpected area: the gloomy corridors of the first couple of floors of the Yellow Heads Building. It turns out there are further pieces of scenery to be found there that relate to the temple location.

Potential Temple Remnant: Temple Gate

In the exterior screenshot, Ryo is standing next to a wooden beam as he looks in at the temple courtyard. The wooden beam next to him has a distinctive wooden grain, which matches up exactly to a temple gate that is integrated into the gloomy Yellow Heads Building interior. The roof of the gate also has the same tiling and design as the main temple building.

Detail at the temple entrance matches the gate model from the Yellow Heads Building

In addition, the temple gate in the Yellow Head Building has a section of broken wall attached - this may well have been directly transported from the original temple settings. This gives an insight into how the outer wall of Miao Guang Temple may have looked, even though the wall does not appear in the beta screenshots.

Model of the temple gate with dilapidated wall

Potential Temple Remnants: Stone Lantern, Tombstone, Tags

The fine detail of the stone monuments in the temple courtyard is rather hard to make out due to the resolution of the screenshot, but some likely object models include an intricate stone lantern (in which sits a candle) and a moss-covered tombstone.

Another object that can be identified is the small pale yellow rectangles that can be seen in the distance: based on their shape and placement, these are strips of cloth or paper with writing in Chinese on them. Upon inspecting the writing, it turns out to be identical to that of the good luck talisman seen at the entrance to Ziming and Xiuying's house.

Objects in the temple courtyard (left) match those found in the Yellow Head Building (right)

Here is a screenshot from the released game, where the items above can be seen in the Yellow Head Building. The candle inside the stone lanterns is lit, giving an idea of how these would look in the temple courtyard at night.
Inside the Yellow Head Building: lanterns, tombstones and even a temple gate.

Potential Temple Remnant: Path

A texture for the stone-laid path on which Ryo is standing is also present on the disc. This texture is also used in several locations elsewhere in the game.

The texture for the stone path in the screenshot is used in the released game (right).

Potential Temple Remnants: Interior

Inside the temple, there is a decorative pattern overlaid on the white panels, seen behind the old man and Ryo. This pattern can also be found in Shenhua's house in her father's room: on the sides of the bed as well as on a folding screen.

Decorative pattern in the temple screenshot (left) can be found in Shenhua's house (right)

The numerous candles in candlesticks inside the temple are also very close in appearance to the one found at Shenhua's house.

Candle in the temple (left) and Shenhua's house (right)

That brings us to the end of the temple-related content exploration. Although there were only a few small traces found, it is interesting to be able to identify at least a little of what once may have been part of the Miao Guang temple location.

In the next post on this series, we will look at the story behind the purpose of Miao Village, and the original plans for it before being cut.

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