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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Star Ocean
An explanation of the weird ending and plot holes in Star Ocean III
"Symbological genetics" was, essentially, a security flaw in the Eternal Sphere code. When Fayt's father gave him, Maria, and Sophia their powers, what he did amounted to hacking the game from the inside and screwing with the underlying operating system. When the Time Gate calls symbological genetics "the science of the Creator" and declares it forbidden, it is because symbological genetics is computer code that manipulates the world in the same way that Luthor, the Eternal Sphere's lead programmer, does when he patches the system.

The fact that NPC characters within the Eternal Sphere found and began to exploit a security flaw in their own simulated reality terrified Luther. As the world in "4D space" is one in which Everything Is Online, an AI with what appears to be root access to the entire Internet is potentially capable of anything. When Fayt and company physically enter 4D space later in the game, they demonstrate just how much havoc a rogue AI can do by controlling the technology of the 4D space society. Luther knows this.

His initial attempts to "fix" the "problem" are perceived in-game by the NPCs as brutal, ridiculously overpowered monsters and warships that do not seem to be bound by in-game physics. When that doesn't work, Luther takes more drastic measures. During Star Ocean 3's final battle with Luther's in-game avatar, he gets desperate enough to delete the entire Eternal Sphere program.

After the final battle, Fayt is left in a blank void in which he perceives nothing. This is because Luther did delete the entire Eternal Sphere program from the server; there isn't anything left for Fayt to do but think to himself. His father's hack rendered Fayt, Maria, and Sophia independent of the Eternal Sphere program, which protected them from Luther's "delete everything" command; but the rest of the Eternal Sphere universe was gone. When it returns, it's because Blair's faction took control away from the defeated Luther and restored the Eternal Sphere from backups. They now run the Eternal Sphere on a closed server and prevent "players" from logging on, allowing Fayt's universe to continue to exist without interference from the outside world.

A better explanation for Fayt's power of 'Destruction'
Compared to Maria's and Sophia's powers of Alteration and Connection, it does not seem like Fayt's powers were explained properly, leading many people to wonder exactly what was so special about him. This is easily rectified if one actually bothers to go to the extensive dictionary which gives explanations for all the terminology in the game. Specifically, it reveals that, in addition to heightened battle prowess, Fayt's Destruction gene warps the laws of physics (in a certain radius around Fayt) to match those found in the Eternal Sphere. This means that Video Game Physics can apply no matter where Fayt is. Most importantly, this means that the party can use Symbology (the Eternal Sphere's "Magic System," if you will) in real life, where normally something like that would be impossible.

To recap, Sophia makes it possible to travel to 4D Space, Maria allows them to exist there and Fayt makes it so that they don't devolve into ordinary human beings. The game doesn't make this readily apparent to most people, and few players realize that nothing else uses Symbology in 4D Space (the closest being hyper-advanced teleportation technology) to understand that the party's use of Symbology is a big deal (exceptions abound in the Bonus Dungeon, Sphere 211, but that doesn't really count).

Welch Vineyard is the player avatar of a 4D being
She first shows up as the spokesperson for the Invention System in the third game and then is added as a potential party member in the remakes of the first two games. She mentions in one of the FAQs that she has access to cool equipment because she's a 'Creator.' Given the time frame between the three games, it's the only explanation that makes sense.
  • And Puffy, who is in all three games.
  • She's in the fourth game, too. And its set hundreds of years before any of the others.
    • But only thirty-six years before her appearance in Star Ocean, thanks to time travel.

Some players "hacked" into the Eternal Sphere while it was being "cleansed."
Hence, Welch still is available during the Executioner's attack, and Puffy was patenting inventions. However, when the world was rewritten into a real world, their minds were still in the game; they were "rewritten" as godlike beings to fit the new rules.

They "overwrote" 4D Space in their desperation to survive
Really, the canonical interpretation of the ending is sort of a wallbanger and just begs for reinterpretation.

Maria, Sophia, and Fayt were, like Luther said, virii. When Luther triggered the sequence to delete them, they attempted to avoid deletion like any halfway-competent virus.

Now, we already know that, through Sophia and Maria's powers combined, they can manifest people and objects (their weapons, inventory, and money) from the Eternal Sphere in 4D space. Clearly, the three of them working together subconsciously "overwrote" 4D space with their own universe. Fayt destroyed what was there (Destruction), Sophia connected to the system and downloaded the data (Connection), and Maria altered it to be four-dimensional (Alteration).

This effectively destroyed the Universe of the Creator (including innocent people, such as Flad and Blair), but saved the Universe of the Eternal Sphere (what was left of it) and made it "real" and safe from all further interference. This is why the version of the Universe that appeared was post-Executioners. If it had been restored from a backup, at least some of the damage done by the Executioners should have been eliminated.

It's probably good for their sanity that they don't know what they've done. The deaths of an entire Universe, even in self-defense, would be a heavy burden to bear.
  • Unless the original universe was just added to the Eternal Sphere thanks to Connection and Alteration.
  • It would merit some thought if it was possible and if the 4D universe was, y'know, gone at the end of the game.

The hated plot twist is a Take That to people who take games too seriously

Many people playing this game are so bothered by the plot twist that they put the game down and just stop playing it. Given that, to get to the plot twist, hours of work are needed, this is heavy stuff. Some people have even cried. People on message boards have admitted that they were devastated to hear that Fayt and friends weren't real because they'd come to relate to and care about these characters so much; to find out that they weren't real...

But, wait. Didn't you already know that? Of course they aren't real; they're characters in a video game, you know, the one that you've been playing all along. You Should Know This Already! Come to think about it, if you had it in your mind that these were fictional characters all along, then you wouldn't have been so affected.

Maybe the way you felt about the plot twist wasn't an accident. Perhaps the purpose of the storyline was to remind you that people in games are only that - people in games.

The first time you meet Fayt, what's the first thing you know about him? He likes to play video games, just like you, and he's dressed fairly casually. From the moment you see this guy, he's defending his gaming habit to a whiny friend who thinks he should be doing something else with his time; and you're relating to him as a person. The entire goal of the first bit of the game is to get to play video games. If you roam around the rest of the hotel, the other options are dull or awkward, sometimes both. Once you get to the video games, you're finally doing something. The games are fun, and the beach was stupid and boring; and Fayt thinks so, too. Essentially, you've got yourself a player avatar. The setting is even a future version of our own universe!

When the concept of the UP 3 comes up, the player expects to be held accountable to it, as does Fayt, even though everyone else seems to shrug it off. You aren't held accountable to it because of extenuating circumstances; you worry about it along with Fayt. Fayt's the one who thinks it's a good idea to take whatever Ellicoorian with you that you had him be nicest to; if you, say, tell Albel that you don't hate him, you're going to want him on your team.

As the game goes on, you're pushed further and further into Fayt's perspective. Soon, Fayt finds himself stranded on a backwater planet and then another backwater planet, which are, to say it positively, Troperiffic. You like videogames? There's a lot to feel comfortable with here, then. Fayt's realistically plausible clothes are changed for something that only a video game protagonist could get away with wearing. You've got a plot about superhuman abilities and rebelling against the creator going on, and this seems like an epic video game showdown...

Wait, the creators are just... a video game company? The characters you've become emotionally involved with are only part of a game? How can this be? Why can't they be real? This goes even further when you find out that the 4D people are so absorbed with the game that they're basically wasting their whole lives on it. They're living vicariously through fictional people instead of building interesting experiences on their own. These aren't the villains, but they're the society that you're going up against. And they're the extreme of taking a game too seriously. Most of them come off as pathetic. (The people dressed up at Gemity could even be a parallel for cosplayers.)

And remember that crappy boring beach from back at the hotel? If you talk to Fayt's father, he gives Fayt advice about games, namely that it's not bad to like games, but they're just games. This seems to bookend the theme.

Fayt and the party never develop any real angst about it. They talk about it and decide that they want to fight to save their reality, and they do. You're decidedly not feeling the same as Fayt anymore because you're probably bothered by their being fictional, while they're just brushing it off. This kind of dissonance hasn't shown up before. It's not you saving your world anymore; it's Fayt saving his. The game ends with Fayt's world separating and the characters going their own ways in their world. It's saved, but it's still not real; in fact, the way it's saved isvolves a total separation from the "real" 4D world.

And if this is what they were thinking, it worked. Nel, Fayt, and Albel are compelling and likeable characters. We want to think of it more as 'levels of reality' or 'irresponsible gods' than NOT REAL.

  • It was probably supposed to be awesome, maybe thought-provoking, but not a Take That. If there is a message, it's probably that Albel will kill anyone who complains. Nel will do so with fire.
  • This is probably the reason why people who hated the plot twist thought it sucked, but it's not probably intentional by the game makers. The creators of the world are less epic then you are originally led to believed, but they are still trying to destroy a world that you have been interacting with as if though it mattered. This feeling shouldn't change just because the 4D entities think the world is fake. Heck, I'd drop the "These characters aren't real" idea when they jumped out of a video game screen and started kicking the butt of the local special forces.
  • The game makes it clear that the characters are every bit as real as they would have been without the plot twist - it's even admitted by a sizable portion of the 4D characters. They are sentient and sapient, individual beings, with self-directed lives, not just game sprites - that sentience and sapience was an emergent property of an artificial environment, yes, but they clearly demonstrate both. Luther and the others determined to erase the Milky Way to remove the emergent life act far more like pre-programmed automata than any of the 3D characters do - refusing to believe that they're actually sapient and sentient and deserving of protection, despite the evidence before them.
  • In some ways, this game has alot of parallels to Digimon, at what point is virtual reality 'real'? It's also the complete turn around of .hack// in that we know it's a game, but it feels real. I agree with the troper of the first bulletin point, it was ment to be thought provoking, much like Men In Black's 'Galaxy in the Marble' thing, not an insult to the player's intelligence.

The 4D space was just another part of a larger game played in some unseen 5D land
How else could you explain characters from a video game becoming able to exist outside their program unless they are merely moving to another interface?
  • Connection and Alteration?
    • Those are traits of programs which altered the programmed universe of the Eternal Sphere. There's no reason that those abilities should operate on 4D Space if it's real.
      • If a possible conclusion that is drawn from the ability of Eternal Sphere entities jumping to 4D Space is that 4D Space is just as false as the Eternal Sphere, then can't the opposite be true? That the Eternal Sphere is just as real as 4D Space? Whatever intention there was originally for the creation of the Eternal Sphere it evolved beyond it. See below for a possible explanation for this.
  • Possible handwave: the Eternal Sphere is so complex that it uses REALITY for its programming. Anything inside it can come into reality with a little 'data' shifting because their 'data' is reality in written form.
  • We are the 5D beings!
    • Given that some variants of particle physics suggest that there may be as many as 13 dimensionsnote , we're probably farther up the chain than that. The 5D beings are really just programs in the 6D being world, which is a computer in the 7D being world, etc.

The Morphus are Nedians
They created their planet 3.7 billion years ago after their homeworld was ravaged by a civil war. They refuse to reveal anything else about their history. Psynards and the four sacred gems are present in the sanctuary on En II. They look like elves and have a natural aptitude for symbology. Most likely, they're descended from a group of nedians who thought it would be better to remain in contact with the rest of the galaxy, to keep anything like the events with the Ten Wise Men from happening to another planet. En II is likely short for Energy Nede II.
  • To further drive the point home, a remix of the SO 2 battle theme even plays on En II.
  • Wasn't this explicitly stated ingame? Perhaps it was just obvious enough that it simply seemed that way. But yeah, this seems to be the case.
    • No it wasn't. The main game says nothing about their origins. The only thing the dictionary says is that their homeworld was destroyed in a civil war 3.7 billion years ago. So yeah, pretty obvious, but it still requires the player to figure it out for themselves.

Crowe F. Almedio is a woman
Since he's, or should that be she's, extremely good at anything s/he does due to being part-Muah, s/he can pull off an extremely convincing male voice. No idea why she does this - it's presumably just to mess with everyone. (Crowe looks female from the neck up from a certain angle.)

Gabriel is a 4D being
In the PSP version, his line is "You will be deleted". Strange choice of words, no?
  • In the original his also says "I'm erasing you."

All of the Ten Wisemen are 4D beings
The Ten Wisemen were powerful artificical beings created by the Nedians who were masters of Heraldry, and the normal Nedians are revealed to have Heraldry encoded into their genes allowing the use of healing magics. It seems possible, even likely, that the Wisemen were products of genetic Heraldry.

The folks running the Eternal Sphere discovered this, and a number of 4D beings (including all the corrupt executives that Fate's party deals with in the 4D world) were able to take the Wisemen as their avatars in the game world; it's not a coincidence that they share names in the Japanese; the sudden change in the Wisemen where they turned on the Nedians (and the Wisemen's nihilistic bent) was because of the 4D beings.

It's worth pointing out that if the folks who'd been running the Wisemen allowed themselves to believe that their creations were "real" that they'd have to admit that there was one hell of a Moral Event Horizon that they'd crossed.

Whether this was impossible to do with the heroes of Till the End of Time because they were a more advanced creation or because they were already controlled by 5D beings is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • Correction, they are creations of Dr. Lantis, Gabriel/Indalecio has Lantis' memories and knowledge implanted in him. If anything, Lantis is the 4D Being and modeled the Ten Sages after Gabriel who was the original, but since Lantis couldn't directly replicate the data for the original, he had to make weaker ones, either that or the other Wise Men/Sages were mutations of trying to repeat the original procedures, or intended Variants for Warfare.

The Missing Procedure was a computer virus that had infected the Eternal Sphere
And it created duplicates of things in order to confuse antivirus programs enough that deletion of the virus would be impossible. The whole "all are one" "new universe" thing was a way of saying that the virus was going to completely take over the system. Presumably, all would be one using the Eternal Sphere servers to send 4-dimensional spam email.
  • As evidence that the Missing Procedure was a virus and not an in-game event, Welch (the only person in the game that is without a doubt a 4-D being) is completely baffled by the goings on.
  • Also, if it was an in-game event, a lot more PCs (any by PCs, I mean 4-D beings playing on the Eternal Sphere, who would show up as NPCs in our Star Ocean game) would have made it through the shooting level boss cinematic thinggy into the final dungeon- its unlikely such a major boss would have been restricted to players from the ENII server plus hero units. The fact that so few went in implies a lack of higher design.

(Star Ocean 2) Ororo and Ururu benefited more from the "curse" than Ashton.
Humans are pushing into the wild places, and they treat anything not them as monsters to be destroyed and/or hunted for trophies. (The players themselves accidentally contribute to this when they kill a sapient creature in an attempt to help Ashton.) By attaching themselves to a human host who will never be able to get rid of them (and as proved in-game, doesn't have the heart to, either), the dragons are no longer confined to hiding in abandoned mines fearing the day some heroic party goes down there to kill them for the experience points. (Ashton probably "benefits" with an extended life span, but given Ashton's horrible luck he'll see it more as Who Wants to Live Forever?.)
  • I tend to agree with this, but have to point out that it was Ashton that was trying to kill them. The party just stood on the sidelines cheering. If they hadn't distracted Ashton at the critical moment, he probably would have killed Ororo and Ururu.

(Star Ocean 4): The entire game is a campaign in the "The Last Hope" expansion of Eternal Sphere
This one is simple, who on God's green Earth, nuked as it may be, would name their kid "Edge", or keep the second name Maverick, for that matter? It sounds dumb even in Japanese. This goon proposes that "Edge Maverick" sounds like the sort of dumb-as-a-brick name some idiot kid playing a MMORPG would pick for their character (or, alternatively, something someone would pick if their goal was irony). This in turn makes a few other points make perfect scene, a Lesser Felpool out of nowhere? Oh that's simple, some person is playing as her and is a furry (or a kid who likes cats). Fetherfolk with glasses (So your saying that some 300 years prior to First Departure, Featherfolk had the ability to not only deal with eye problems but even create eye wear such that it looks exactly like our own? And it's not a developed planet? Christ what qualifies as a developed planet?! And whilst we're at it, Expel had just about everything except electronic communications! Christ the UP 3 is a bitch!!) someone was at the customization just a tad too hard. Yeah.

Oh and fake earth was a surprise twist in the campaign, and that reaction of Edge was a real 4D responce. It was all over 4D Youtube the next day. 4D Edge never saw the end of it.
  • There are several problems with this. First, if it is an event part of an in-game expansion, why is Welch (the only one who is a Player for certain) so baffled by it? Second, why is access to the final dungeon so limited? The only people to get in are the party, and NPCs/players from the ENII server. If it were a dungeon, wouldn't access to it be open to any and all adventuring parties from multiple servers?
    • How about "its instanced for some reason".
      • Extremely doubtful. Remember, Eternal Sphere has all the internal continuity of an actual universe. Instancing an event would mean they would have several hundred groups claiming to have singlehandedly saved the universe and received the same single group of rewards and promotions for it. That works in a low-tech game, where NPCs are primitive enough to not notice the problem, but in Eternal Sphere, the NPCs would notice something like that. Eternal Sphere players and programers can interact with the game all they want, but most of the real-world unrealistic make-the-game-more-convenient workarounds can't really be feasibly implemented without making the NPCs notice a "glitch in the matrix" and risking a Turned Against Their Masters moment long before the events of 3.

The series tells the story of a Heroic Lineage
There's enough of a time difference between the games that people won't notice. Edge and Reimi hook up after the fourth game ends. Eventually, a female descendent of theirs marries into the Silvestri family, producing Ilia. She married Ronix Kenny, as confirmed in First Departure, ironically the descendent of her ancestor's idol. After the events of the second game, Claude eventually marries Rena, as Blue Sphere confirms that they are the Official Couple. Four hundred some years later, their descendent is Ryoko Leingod, (and by extension her son Fayt. Possibly Maria too, but that's a whole other WMG), which is why she is the only non-genetically engineered earthling we see with blue hair, (as Ronix's hair color was retconned). We don't know Ryoko's maiden name, but it obviously wasn't Kenny, or Fayt would have mentioned it in an easily missed conversation with Sophia where she mentions the Kenny military family of the old federation.

Fayt and Maria are fraternal twins.
They're the same age. They have the same hair color and facial structure, (stick Fayt in a long blue wig and eye color would be the only way to tell them apart). Maria bears a strong resemblance to Fayt's mother. As for why they were separated, the video on Moonbase mentions a resonance effect with their powers. Keeping them together was probably too dangerous even without Sophia nearby. Fayt would have been kept by their parents over Maria because his powers were my dangerous and required more supervision. Although this still raises the question of why Robert didn't reveal it, either when he was with the party or in the video on moonbase.

The prevalence of Awesome McCoolnames is because the natives picked up on the naming trends established by Player Characters.
Fairly self-explanatory. MMORPG players give their avatars "awesome" names to stand out, which ironically makes them more commonly seen. The natives pick up on this and name their own kids along those lines, perhaps even naming their children in honor of somebody who saved their lives in the past. Thus, by Til the End of Time, Fayt's name really isn't considered unusual anymore.

The events of Star Ocean 3 occurred in a separate continuity.

It had to be said. Incidentally, this would mean that...

Welch Vineyard isn't just a Creator, she's the Creator, Renegade Time Lady

Throwing out the events of Star Ocean 3 (and with them, the only canon explanation for Welch), this is the only other way she can apparently have such advanced technology with no regard for the UP3 in the remakes of Star Ocean 1 and Star Ocean 2, and how she can go on to change her appearance completely, depart some hundreds of years into the past, and take up a job as Edge's support from Earth.

Lymle Lemuri Phi and Sukia Ibuki are somehow related.
Both of them are Older than They Look, have a similar personality, and even look very much alike.

Lucifer Lansfeld's attempt to delete the Eternal Sphere had no hope of working.
Word of God has said that all Lucifer succeeded in doing was destroying the link between 4D and ES. This may look like a cop-out, since nothing is concretely said to anything like this effect in-game, but once you realize the parallels to Gnosticism, it becomes pretty clear. Lucifer is the stand-in for Ialdabaoth, a proud, sadistic creator who is utterly ignorant of the original, spiritual realm of the aeons (Ialdabaoth himself is a sort of mutant offspring of the aeon Sophia's ill-advised attempt at creating something all by herself), and thus fails to realize that he's not the infinitely highest entity in existence. He creates his own heavens and earth to have something to rule over (and thus something that will forever fluff up his ego), but doesn't realize that the souls he created are actually hapless spirits from the aeons' realm that somehow got stuck with him. So when the aeons send messengers (e.g. the Serpent of Eden, Jesus) to help enlighten humanity and give it the potential to escape this decaying-from-imperfection (inevitable from Ialdabaoth's own imperfect soul), grossly matter-bound world, he reacts... violently. He has his "angels", the archons (usually just as nasty as, or in forms of Gnosticism where Ialdabaoth is not sadistic, just a Well-Intentioned Extremist, worse than him), throw everything they've got in keeping his creations in their "proper"-from-and-to-all-eternity place and driving off these alien usurpers. If you've fought Lucifer, a good deal of why he has the archons do what they do should sound familiar.

The important part about the certain failure of Lucifer's attempt at plane-cide is why the aeons are going to lengths to rescue the imprisoned souls—their spiritual reality. Despite what Ialdabaoth thinks, those humans are not his creations; that's just their gross physical shells. The actual souls/minds/essences come from beyond. Translating the scheme to SO3, Lucifer was essentially aiming at the wrong part. He destroyed the 4D portion, but the "real", unique-to-ES portion was impervious. (Any deaths his Proclaimers and Convictors did cause would be everlasting, though, because that was essentially attacking spirit with spirit, rather than trying to attack spirit with matter.) The program was essentially like a metal-casting mould, which the spiritual-substance denizens and objects took the shape of. Lucifer mistook everything for being just the "mould". This would be like Ialdabaoth constantly and stupidly thinking he was succeeding so long as he had acquiescence from the material vectors, not realizing that the spiritual substance was anything but acquiescent (or even there). So, while from 4D it would look like he achieved the destruction, the cast object was pretty much intact, despite what he obliquely made it do to itself with his angel programs/spirits.

Also, taking the point about Fayt being able to make a small 4D space conform to ES principles (for the purpose of thumping 4D's archons and their machinations) at the very top, Fayt is obliquely the same kind of bringer of salvific wisdom that Gnosticism held the Serpent and Jesus to be. That is, spiritual/ES principles that would triumph over the shackles of matter/4D.

(Confused yet?)

From the perspective of 4D, the canon order of the first three games is 1-3-2

By all rights, Nede creating the Wise Men should have brought an even more ferocious response from Sphere than the SO3 heroes did. And yet...nothing. Not even a peep from 4D. However, the in-game encyclopedia points out that part of Lucifer's genius was allowing ES's players to choose multiple time frames. If all these time frames were still going up until ES was severed from 4D, then it's pretty likely that there were null spaces in between. If both Wise Men events happened in these null areas, then we have an explanation for why 4D didn't take notice; they hadn't happened yet.

Eternal Sphere rebelling against Lucifer was Inherent in the System

Those multiple time frames may have meant that Lucifer would be facing a rebellion anyway, Fayt or no Fayt. As Brea puts it, player interaction is becoming increasingly constricted; they don't have as many choices as before. One possibility is that ES is actively trying to prevent paradox. That is, it interdicts actions by 4D players that would preclude, whether in the past or in the future, something that's already written in. Or to take another angle, as things occur in 4D, causality interactions generate more and more things independently of player action and intent. One wonders what Lucifer would think if told point-blank that not only was ES certain to stop obeying him, he'd managed to destine that disobedience by the very act of creation...

Welch is a man.

Since the leading theory is that Welch is a 4-D being and being that she's a young girl, she must therefore actually be a middle-aged man in "real life".
  • I dunno, if Welch is a guy, he's a great roleplayer, given Welch's very teen-girl-like obsession with shipping the characters she meets to the extent of caring about it significantly more than monster-hunting or other ingame attractions.

Cliff is Prince of Space
Hence why he dodges weapons that he just announced had no effect on him.

Welch is playing an in-universe remake
I used to loathe the Shocking Swerve in the third one, but I noticed a few clever works around it. The Ten Wise Men could've been early executioners (some of their attacks are copied over, particularly Gabriel's Divine Wave) and as for Welch retconning her way into the remakes... well, the Oracle command has the characters being informed outright that you're playing a remake. Many theories suggest she's a 4D being, so maybe she's playing the remake of the Milky Way galaxy after the executioners eliminated it? Either way, I don't seem to mind the old "It was all a dream turned up to 11" twist so much any more when I consider those points, so this would class as a fridge too.

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