#73: “Fighting Against All Odds – Part 3”
Published in 2016/12/08 issue
Welcome to the third column about FFXIV’s 2016 Fan Festival. Will I be able to conclude the series here…?
The concept behind FFXIV’s Fan Festival is “an event where thousands of players get together in one place and do all sorts of FFXIV things.” What matters here are the stage events and floor activities, which I’ll be writing about this time.
As the name implies, stage events are panels or talk sessions that are held on stage. We begin with my keynote speech on the future of FFXIV and follow up with other events, such as a quiz tournament about the FFXIV world of Eorzea, a PvP event, a cosplay contest, and development panels presented by various members of the development team. The development team panels are what we really have to rack our brains over; the toughest question being, “Who should we ask to do it?”
FFXIV’s live streams are always hosted by myself and core members of the development team. On these streams, I try to give the younger staff opportunities to take the podium, but at the same time, there’s considerable emotional risk in showing your name and face as someone that works on an online game. Also, although our managers ask around for people to participate, whether they actually do or not is 100% up to them, because our developers are being paid to develop, and I don’t consider revealing their name and face to the players to be part of their job. As for myself, I’m the producer, so it is part of my job; plus, I’m an optimistic person, so I don’t get too bothered when people criticize me online. Most people aren’t like that, though. (Please be kind to our development team, everyone.)
The community teams from each region did their research and found that the most popular stage events in Japan and North America were the panels about battle content. In Europe, there were a lot of requests for art-related content—was this a regional interest?
At this year’s Las Vegas Fan Fest, “Mr. Ozma” took the stage for the first time, and his panel focused on the behind-the-scenes of alliance raids. He was very nervous and couldn’t get any sleep the night before. On the day of the presentation, he was reciting his script to the wall in the waiting room until the very last minute *laughs*. Fortunately, he was an instant success with the audience, and many North American Warriors of Light cheered him on.
The staff who appear on our development panels go through what they’ve worked on and pick out specification documents, storyboards, etc. Then, they create a rough draft in PowerPoint and rehearse it at the office several times. Additionally, each of the development team sections and community teams prepare a commemorative video for the presenter. Also, the Fan Fest live streams will be watched by people overseas, so we need to prepare English translations for the materials.
As such, we need to coordinate with the development team. Since my keynote speech contains announcements for the next expansion, it also affects the expansion’s development. For example, it was decided 9 months ago that I would introduce the new “Ala Mhigo” region at the North America Fan Fest, and the development schedule was designed to prioritize creating the materials that would be used in the presentation. And for the highly sought-after new job information, we had to decide which Fan Fest would have which job and whether we would show videos or screenshots. The content for each Fan Fest was decided on and prioritized in development.
Additionally, the community team began planning floor activities over half a year in advance. Floor activities include both activities that represent the FFXIV world and stations where you can actually play the game. The team racked their brains for ideas on how to get people excited to play at the venue when they normally already play FFXIV at home. Last time, the star of the show was the Odin trial fight.
The development for the surprise playable battle content at Fan Fest also begins over half a year in advance, and the balancing is tweaked for the event. The Fan Fest attendees get to play it first, but the content is created with the intent of releasing it in a future update for everyone else. Last time it was an 8-man fight, so this time we went with a large-scale 24-man fight. Please look forward to Proto-Ultima…
Now then, I’ve dedicated three columns to the behind-the-scenes of FFXIV’s Fan Festival, but in the end, I still couldn’t cover everything. There are a wealth of stories revolving around Sound Director Masayoshi Soken’s musical stage events, from the preparations to the rehearsals to the events themselves. I’d like to write about them after Tokyo Fan Fest is over if I get the chance.
At any rate, Fan Fest is the largest-scale event we have to offer, and it only exists because of our customers, the development team, the management team, the marketing team, the PR team, and everyone else connected to FFXIV. Since we’ve put so much hard work into it, we want to enjoy it with all of you as well, whether it be at the venue or through the live stream!
Oh! I had a lot of funny stories to tell about the North American players, but I don’t have space for them now… Maybe the next column should be a bonus chapter. (Then again, Tokyo Fan Fest is only a month away!)
 Masaki Nakagawa, a developer from the Monster section. Japanese names are hard to remember for North Americans, so I gave him the nickname “Mr. Ozma” on stage, because he was the one behind the Ozma boss in the Weeping City of Mhach. The difficulty of that boss was a big topic of discussion when the raid was added.