#95: “The Warriors of Light and the Echo – Part 2”
Published in 2017/11/02 issue
September 23, 2017, 1:45 p.m. I stood on the stage of Tokyo International Forum’s Hall A, acting as master of ceremonies for FFXIV’s first solo orchestra concert, Eorzean Symphony.
Eorzean Symphony was presented in two parts: “A Realm Reborn” covered FFXIV’s launch up to Patch 2.55, and “Heavensward” covered the first expansion pack up to Patch 3.56. Songs were carefully selected and arranged for orchestra. Sound Director Soken and I struggled to narrow the selections down, and we only barely made it within the maximum allowed time of 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Now then, at the aforementioned time, I was on stage, just about to introduce the song that would be the climax of the “A Realm Reborn” part: Answers. At the beginning of the show, my legs were shaking from nervousness, but the cheers from all of the FFXIV players—Warriors of Light—in the audience activated the power of the Echo, and I managed to pull through.
“Ah… Even Uematsu-san is nervous…”
Our special guest for the show was Nobuo Uematsu, the father of FF music. I invited him onto the stage and saw that his lips were trembling, too. That’s right; even the almighty Uematsu-san gets nervous!
…I think it was in spring 2014 that I first met Uematsu-san. ARR was somehow managing to stay on track, and we’d just made the decision to base the expansion pack around the story of Ishgard, a region that had been locked up tightly since 1.0.
Since I’d been a fan of the FF series since long ago, I really wanted Uematsu-san to write the main theme. Part of it was because I loved his music, but at the same time—and this may be my ego speaking—FFXIV was treated like the black sheep of the FF series because of 1.0’s failure, so I wanted something that would certify its status.
I arranged for a meal close to Uematsu-san’s office, and nervously went to go meet him, with Soken tagging along. Uematsu-san was, and still is, a very gentle person. I know I should’ve greeted him immediately when I took over FFXIV, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d decided that I shouldn’t meet him until the game had been successfully remade… until I’d done as much as I could as a developer. I thought it wouldn’t be respectful otherwise. I did think about what the producer was supposed to do in that situation, but in the end, I stubbornly stuck to my developer’s intuition.
When I met Uematsu-san for the first time, he ignored the whirlwind of sentiments in my heart, and simply smiled and said, “You’ve done well.”
…It’s been three and a half years since then, and now I was standing with him on stage.
Uematsu-san called over our other special guest, the singer Susan Calloway. It was finally time for Answers to begin. This song was written by Uematsu-san before I took over FFXIV, and it was the main theme song for the game. It’s also the song of Hydaelyn, the planet on which FFXIV takes place. In 1.0, bits and pieces of it were played in the background during important story scenes—the song was never used in full. Even though it was such an amazing song, we never found a place powerful enough to warrant using it.
But if it weren’t for this song, I don’t think the “End of an Era” trailer that finished off 1.0 could have been created. The sheer strength of the song and its vocals were what guided the Visual Works department as they created the video. It’s thanks to the song that the trailer was so powerful.
When any of the staff members who’ve been around since 1.0—including Soken and myself—hear this song, we always cry. It has the mysterious power to remind us of everything—the painful times, the happy times, how hard we worked. That’s why it’s amazing.
I’m sure the Warriors of Light in the audience felt the same way… I looked at their faces from the side of the stage: some were sobbing, some were quietly tearing up as they listened attentively to Susan’s vocals, some were in a daze… There were truly so many memories packed into that one song.
Once the song finished, a long silence took over the hall for what seemed like forever. No one clapped or even moved; they simply sat in silence. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do either, so I simply held my breath and watched. After what felt like 20 seconds, one of the staff members on the sidelines couldn’t take it anymore and clapped loudly. It was as though time had been stopped, and that action broke the venue free—waves of applause echoed around the hall like a tempest, and with that, the curtain fell on Eorzean Symphony Part 1: A Realm Reborn.
As the performers from the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra withdrew from the stage, I heard them murmuring, “That was crazy.”
I went for a smoke during the short intermission, and had a chat with the performers there. Apparently, they couldn’t believe how earnest the audience looked when listening to the music. It put a lot of pressure on them because they felt like any little mistake would be noticed immediately. Looks like the power of the Echo was affecting them, too…
The astonishing power of the Warriors of Light had struck again, and it only got stronger in Part 2, “Heavensward”. Their strength continued to build with each show, but that’s a story for next time. The next column will be the last in the series. I have to get over the post-concert depression…