Unused dialogue - Ren playable in Bailu sidequest?

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While digging through the game's files, I stumbled upon what appears to be dialogue text intended for a scenario where you play as Ren in Bailu Village! Its within the files for the Battle Rally DLC - suggesting that originally there was even more to it besides the Bailu-chan hunt and the rally itself.

I've attached the .txt file with this post (its in the folders as a UEXP file but you can open it with Notepad, so I've saved it as .txt for easy access), but below you can find my transcription of it, denoting the characters that I believe the dialogue belongs to.
It can be found in the game's files within the 'pakchunk2' PAK file - when unpacked, the path to this file is:
Game\Scenario\TextData\DLCBattleRally\en-US\RENDLCBR.UEXP

As you'll see, the dialogue suggests this was a sidequest where Ren is charged with completing various tasks by Mao Meimei, who runs the Prize Exchange in Panda Market, who will then agree to go on a date with Ren if he manages to complete them all. However, things don't quite go the way Ren would have hoped...

NOTE: Anything in italics are my comments, and I've denoted who I believe is saying each line of dialogue:

Ren: Prize Exchange, huh.

Mao Meimei: Hello! Welcome! Have any tokens to exchange?

Ren: Well what do we have here. Wasn't expecting to run into such a beaut in the countryside.

Meimei: Huh? What's wrong with you? Stop staring at me.

Ren: I’m no stranger. Just looking for my guy from Japan who’s obsessed with martial arts.

Meimei: From Japan? You mean that Ryo guy?

Ren: Yeah, that’s him!

Meimei: Well then, you look like you’ve got time on your hands. What say you and me go have some fun. I guarantee you’ll have a good time.

Ren: Interesting proposal.

Meimei: In that case, do as I say and I’ll go out with you.

Ren: Really? Sure. Anything you say.



Meimei: And then there’s…

Ren: How many more you got, lady?

Meimei: …and that’s about it.

(presumably Meimei gives him a list of what he needs to do, or there’s a transition of time passing as she explains them verbally)

Ren: Okay, fine. I just have to do all those things right? Wait for me!

(to himself): That lady just kept going and going…Lucky Hit. Turtle racing. Wood splitting. Thug ridding. She even requested I take care of their boss. Hmph. Challenge accepted.
Ren: (reading from list?) Win at least once at Lucky Hit at Joy Park. Oh, is that all?

Ren: Lucky Hut at Joy Park. This must be it. I just have to win once. Let’s get this over with (presumably said when he finds the stand)

Ren: Hah. That was easy. (presumably said after he wins at Lucky Hit)

Ren: (reading from list?) Win the turtle race at Joy Park.

??? (possibly Ma Junmin, the Turtle Race bookie?): What’s a man if he’s got no luck?

Ren: I hear ya! Luck is my middle name.

Ren: This must be the turtle racing she was talking about.

Ren: All right! I won a turtle race! That was fun. Maybe I should play again. (presumably said after he wins the turtle race)
...
Meimei: You know, a man has to be able to provide for his woman.

Ren: Provide? I’ll provide you with anything you need!

Meimei: Then go and help Uncle Tao split some wood.

Ren: Wood splitting, huh.

Meimei: You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Ren: No, no…I’ll do it!



Ren: (to himself) Chopping wood, huh. Just gotta do it.

Ren: Whew. Done…finally. This better be worth it (presumably said after he’s finished wood splitting)

...
Meimei: Lastly, get rid of the thugs.

Ren: What? There are thugs?

Meimei: Yeah. A group of them made their way here and are scaring the villagers.

Ren: So where are they?

Meimei: The small fry can be seen in the Village Square from time to time. The big boss, though…He sometimes comes to this market and eats and drinks without paying. What a nuisance.

??? (Meimei?): A man has to be strong, right? Teehee!
...
Ren: (to himself): Guess I found the small fry. They’ve got thug written all over their faces. Tie to stretch these fists into their faces!

Ren: Come on. Too easy! I didn’t even break a sweat! (presumably said after he defeats the thugs)

Hm? What’s going on?

???: Hurry it up and bring me some booze! Unless you want me to bring you a world of pain?! You there! Bring me some buns! Make sure they’re freshly steamed ones!

Ren: (to himself): That’s gotta be him. The thug boss.

???: Hey, pawn shop guy! Gimme you(sic) money! You know what’ll happen if you don’t listen, right?

Ren: That punk just doesn’t know when to stop! Hey, old man!

???: Mmm

Ren: I’m talking to ya, old man!

???: Who the hell are you?

Ren: You’d better quit that.

???: What you say to me?

Ren: You deaf as a post? I told you to stop.



Ren: Hmph. I wouldn’t call that an easy win, but a win’s a win. Now it’s time to see my lady! (presumably said after he defeats the old man)
Now, its hard to infer who this old man is (and indeed the thugs Ren fights first, who don't appear to have any dialogue?). The fact Ren refers to him as 'old man' rules out it being Yanlang again. But we do know of two fairly elderly Bailu Village residents who have a taste for alcohol and/or buns. Therefore it seems likely to be either:

1629236368230.png Sun Jiusi
or...
1629236406994.png Mo Guangming

While Sun is well known for his love of wine and steamed buns, and can obviously put up a fight, this sort of behaviour would seem out of character for the sage old master. Therefore I'm leaning towards this being Guangming. However, it is possible its neither, and rather an entirely new character created simply for the purpose of this sidequest. Who knows? It does seem odd that Meimei refers to 'thugs' and that an old man would be their leader - unless she is simply exaggerating things to Ren slightly to use him to get rid of an awkward customer, of course!

And following this, there is one last challenge for Ren to complete:

Meimei: Hello! You here for prizes?

Ren: In fact, I am. The biggest one at that. I did everything you said. It’s all taken care of. So let’s go on that date you promised me.

Meimei: My shift’s not over yet, so I can’t. Sorry!

Ren: Oh come on. I even took care of those thugs you asked me to.

Meimei: You really like me, huh. Then give me enough tokens for the most expensive Skill Book here.

Ren: What?!

Meimei: If you do that, I can close up shop and go have some fun with you.

Ren: Okay. But this better be the last condition!

Meimei: Of course it is!

Ren: Tch. What choice do I have.

...
Ren: All right! I’ve claimed that Skill Book. I don’t wanna hear any more excuses!

Meimei: You’re right. I can close up shop today!

Ren: Then come with me and we’ll have ourselves an adventure!

Meimei: (calling to someone) Hey! Come on out!

Ren: Huh?

Mao Zhi: Okay, sis!

Ren: W-What’s with the kid?

Meimei: He’s my brother.

Zhi: Hi mister! I heard you’re friends with Ryo!

Ren: Uhh, yeah I am…

Meimei: This guy said he’d take us somewhere fun!

Ren: Wait just a second here. I never agreed to babysit some kid.

Meimei: You see, our parents aren’t around anymore. I can’t leave someone so young at home all by himself.

Zhi: So where are we going, mister?

Ren: Sigh…

You may remember Meimei's brother, Mao Zhi, being the kid that wants the soccer ball in the main game's sidequest:
1629236852476.png

Besides the amusement of Ren getting screwed over, there is an interesting tidbit that I believe is not shared anywhere else in the game - that Meimei and Zhi's parents 'aren't around anymore'. (presumably deceased) This is interesting as there does appear to be other members of the Mao family living in the village - namely:

1629236905399.png Mao Yuefang
1629236931415.png & Mao Yeliang (Yuefang's son)

If Meimei and Zhi's parents are no longer around, this may suggest that Yuefang is Meimei's sister (they appear to be around the same age, I think?), so Yeliang would be Meimei's nephew.

Also, at the end of this file there are the following lines, which would presumably trigger if Ren attempted to go to a different area when he's not supposed to, much like similar dialogue for Ryo in the main game:
I don’t think there’s anything that way.

I don’t have time for a casual stroll.

There’s still things to check off on that lady’s list. I need to head back.

There’s no point in going this way. I should head back.
And there you have it! I'm not certain if anything else relating to this seemingly scrapped content is anywhere in the game's files - the only other file in the folder is a UASSET file, which I cannot open myself as my laptop is ancient and can't open Unreal Editor (it can't play the game either, I literally grabbed it from the recent Humble Bundle just to have access to the game's files, mainly to check some things for the character database I just released!). But perhaps someone more savvy than me might be able to find something :)

I can only assume this was scrapped at around the same time Baisha had to be, as this was supposed to feature the 'Character Perspective' system where you could play as Ren and Shenhua - perhaps they then decided against having this feature in the DLC...at any rate, I'm sure you'll agree this is a fascinating find!
 

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Great stuff! I wonder how far along in development the character perspective system was scrapped. Would've been neat to play as other characters for brief periods, even though some may disagree and say this is Ryo's adventure ONLY. I love the cast of shenmue, especially cocky Ren, so I'd take side stories like this any day haha
 

Kenzo38130

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Ren is my favorite character after ryo .. too bad this side quest was cut from the game.
 
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Interesting! I suppose it was devised as a standalone side quest specifically for the Battle Rally DLC.

...or maybe it could be a remnant from the character perspective system, that they dug up and considered including in the DLC? The only thing that makes me think that's probably not the case is Ren being in Bailu. Narratively, I think it works better meeting Ren after Bailu, and I'm not sure there's any evidence to suggest he was ever going to turn up pre-Niaowu?
 
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Miles Prower
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Interesting! I suppose it was devised as a standalone side quest specifically for the Battle Rally DLC.

...or maybe it could be a remnant from the character perspective system, that they dug up and considered including in the DLC? The only thing that makes me think that's probably not the case is Ren being in Bailu. Narratively, I think it works better meeting Ren after Bailu, and I'm not sure there's any evidence to suggest he was ever going to turn up pre-Niaowu?
Yeah without the full context it’s hard to say where exactly this would be placed. Perhaps Ren got to Bailu after Ryo and Shenhua had already left?
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
Amazing discovery @Miles Prower

For some reason I thought when @LemonHaze brought us extra lines from Lan Di and Ren if I recall, the games files had been throughly poured over and didn’t expect any additional content so this is a pleasant surprise.

I have said it before but out of all the elements missing or cut from Shenmue 3, I was not disappointed the character perspective system didn’t make it, as I am a firm believer this is Ryo’s story and he should be the only playable character. Whether or not Suzuki revisits this idea in Shenmue 4 is hard to say, since Ryo will have now two traveling companions and it sounded like the siege elements in Baisha would have both of them playable with different abilities and play styles.

I would be also interested when they decided to scrap the character perspective system, as I feel Niaowu in particular felt like a Ren and Shenhua were rather aimless at times wondering around the city and it clearly felt like they could have had their own side on objectives and missions at various points. That’s why I’m super interested in getting a Shenmue 3 development retrospective to we can learn more about some of the choices made.
 
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I have said it before but out of all the elements missing or cut from Shenmue 3, I was not disappointed the character perspective system didn’t make it, as I am a firm believer this is Ryo’s story and he should be the only playable character.
This. While the idea sounds cool on paper and certainly has the potential for some cool moments, it would feel a little weird playing as anybody but Ryo at this point. I know that strictly speaking the prophecy is much bigger than Ryo, but after three games following only his perspective, I too see it as his story. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be down for some character-centric DLC episodes covering things like Ren’s past and Iwao’s time in China though.

As for where this fits in, it would make the most sense for Ren to turn up in Bailu after Shenhua and Ryo have already left and would explain how he knew to find them in Niawou. Scrapping it kind of makes sense, as as a stand alone insert, it seems fairly short and would just have players repeating things they’d already done. I’d be interested to know whether these lines ever got recorded though, as that would give us a pretty good idea of how early in development it was cut (they recorded all of the VO around 18 months prior to release, if I’m not mistaken).
 
Joined
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Great find. If they were too rushed to fit this into the main game, it seems like a missed DLC opportunity.

While I didn't miss the character perspective system we never got, as I too thought it might have seemed like a weird gimmick after controlling only Ryo for so long, I was excited for whatever part of the story would have prompted a chance to experience things from Ren or Shenhua's perspective.
 

LemonHaze

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For some reason I thought when @LemonHaze brought us extra lines from Lan Di and Ren if I recall, the games files had been throughly poured over and didn’t expect any additional content so this is a pleasant surprise.
For Shenmue III, I only really wanted to provide mods etc and anything else suggested which I'd be able to take on at the same time of the D&P project etc. There's probably a lot of small things which still haven't been found. I also only found those Lan Di and Ren lines when I was making the Eric Kelso mods etc.
 
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Amazing find!

I also think the most likely thing story-wise is that Ren arrived in Bailu after Ryo and Shenhua left. In fact, at the end of Shenmue II the only clue Ren has is that Ryo is headed to Bailu Village in Guilin (he throws a knife at that map on the wall).

In a parallel universe where they could have had the time and budget for making it a fully-fledged episode, there would have been room for a lot of comedic moments: Ren coping with rural life, Ren perceived as another thug attacking the village, Ren having to prove he is a friend of Ryo, Ren being the love interest of all the "horny" ladies of Bailu, etc.
 

Kenzo38130

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Amazing find!

I also think the most likely thing story-wise is that Ren arrived in Bailu after Ryo and Shenhua left. In fact, at the end of Shenmue II the only clue Ren has is that Ryo is headed to Bailu Village in Guilin (he throws a knife at that map on the wall).

In a parallel universe where they could have had the time and budget for making it a fully-fledged episode, there would have been room for a lot of comedic moments: Ren coping with rural life, Ren perceived as another thug attacking the village, Ren having to prove he is a friend of Ryo, Ren being the love interest of all the "horny" ladies of Bailu, etc.
that would be amazing, i can do bad things for an chapter with ren like this. :ROFLMAO:
 
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Amazing find!

I also think the most likely thing story-wise is that Ren arrived in Bailu after Ryo and Shenhua left. In fact, at the end of Shenmue II the only clue Ren has is that Ryo is headed to Bailu Village in Guilin (he throws a knife at that map on the wall).

In a parallel universe where they could have had the time and budget for making it a fully-fledged episode, there would have been room for a lot of comedic moments: Ren coping with rural life, Ren perceived as another thug attacking the village, Ren having to prove he is a friend of Ryo, Ren being the love interest of all the "horny" ladies of Bailu, etc.
While it definitely would've been an opportunity for some funny moments, going back to Bailu as Ren, having already "cleared" it as Ryo, would've been a momentum killer, I think. Bailu is great, but by the time you leave, you're really ready for a new destination. Going back later in the game, having explored a bit of Niaowu, would've felt like severe padding after the novelty of playing as Ren wears off.
 
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