Memories of Vana’diel: Development and Community Teams

This week we’re sharing Final Fantasy XI memories from the Development and Community Teams! This also includes some members who are no longer with Square Enix.

To read more about our Memories of Vana’diel project, please see our previous post here.

Akihiko Matsui

I often hear comments from other company’s developers and other game industry people that they used to play FFXI or are currently playing FFXI. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that FFXI influenced the games that came out after in some way.

 

Yoji Fujito

I have countless good memories of FINAL FANTASY XI, but I’ll mention one very special one — the North America Fan Festival.

I’ll never forget the amount of excitement I felt from all of the attendees when I stood in front of everyone in Los Angeles and introduced Moblin Maze Mongers.

I remember the butterflies in my stomach from the nerves after I took the stage and the hiccup where the screen wouldn’t come up, but the event left a strong lasting impression on me and it was an extremely valuable experience. I also remember giving an origami crane as a present to the lady that said hello to me in the hallway. ;)

I’ve actually been asked this same question from various media outlets, and while I might have said different things, there are a whole bunch of lasting memories from FINAL FANTASY XI that are all on the same level of importance to me.

 

Mizuki Ito

I’ve been involved in the development of FFXI for nearly 15 years now, and there are so many things that really make you feel how much FFXI is loved. Young people that played FFXI while they were students and were aiming to be game developers have become FFXI devs, editors that loved FFXI and created strategy guides have changed their jobs and joined the dev team, and other departments and developers from other companies who love FFXI are coming up with great collaboration events and game plans. The best memory is being able to create a game that has remained in so many people’s memories over the course of 15 years.

 

Michael-Christopher Koji Fox

When I entered Square Enix and joined the XI team back in spring of 2003, my first assignment was to translate the GM desk text (exciting, I know). It being my first translation work ever, I took my time and eventually submitted something I felt was adequate, given the nature of the task. You can imagine my surprise when I got the text back from my supervisor and not a single word I had written remained. The entire file had been revised and my soul was crushed.

It was then I realized the standards the project had set for itself. Adequate was not enough. We were creating something that people were going to pay their hard-earned money to play and that meant anything less than the best was not enough. In essence, it was our responsibility to create something that not simply met expectations, but exceeded them (at the least!).

It was in this way that XI taught me to never be satisfied with merely seeing the job done. It taught me to always strive for greater heights and to never stop learning.

I am proud I had the opportunity to be a part of XI because without that opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful.

 

Naoshi Mizuta

I’d have to say that my favorite memory of the game is being able to perform FFXI music live in front of everyone at Fan Festival and other events.

 

 

Matt Hilton

It’d be impossible to choose just one memory of my time in FFXI. When I look back, I think of things like forging life-long friendships with others, even to the point of calling each other at 4 a.m. when HNMs popped, playing together daily (into the early morning hours), meeting each other and hanging out. It was FFXI that was at the center of my life for over a decade. I’ve been truly blessed to not only have enjoyed the game as a player, but also by having the chance to work closely with the team that created it.

 

Anthony Caraway

Final Fantasy XI was my first step into the MMORPG genre. I started on the Japanese version, and didn’t see any English speaking players. The whole MMORPG genre was new to me. I wasn’t used to interacting with other players in-game. The first thing I did in the game was walk out of Windurst to West Sarutabaruta, kill monsters in the field, entered Giddeus and died. I didn’t even know what quests were. At level 8, I had 100 gil on me. Somehow I got to Mhaura, and right when I entered the area a ferry docked at port, so what do I do? Spend that 100 gil to get to Selbina and set my home point there — a really smart move. I was stuck there for hours. Suddenly this level 15 person comes up to me and asks me if I need any help. He helped me get to Bastok. He explained that he loved helping new players out and gave me a few extra gil to get started. This person really moved me and showed me how awesome it is to be able to help players out in a game.

A few days passed by and I saw someone shouting in English asking for help. I was surprised that there were English speaking players out there, so I helped him out, and that’s when I decided this is how I want to play this game. I wanted to help players out, like the person that helped me. I created a small linkshell where I gathered English speaking players and Japanese players who wanted to help, or learn English to build a community together. This linkshell somehow got bigger and bigger over time, and by the time we knew it, we were running HNM, sky (Tu’Lia), and Dynamis. What’s so great about FINAL FANTASY XI to me is the community, meeting new people, and getting things done together. It was an awesome experience to me and the reason why I continue playing MMOs. Till this day I still play with those players I met in FINAL FANTASY XI, and thanks to them and everyone else, I’m here now.

 

Aya

FINAL FANTASY XI was my first MMORPG. I remember being so indecisive about creating my character but I finally settled on being a female Hume! I went through so many experiences trying to figure out what job fit me best, too. Red mage as a jack of all trades, the monk to give punches in bunches, but finally, there was thief. I was never really crafting so I felt thief fit my desire to adventure and sell the rare drops I’d farm. Notorious monster farming became a passion and it was here that I found my competitive flare.
Along with that flare, if there’s one thing I had to remember about this game, it’s that if I wanted something, I always needed put in the work for it. Along the way, I made friends who helped me because they saw how much effort I’d put into going for what I wanted, especially how stubborn I was to get them even if it meant going at it by myself. Whether it was getting a mission done, questing, leveling up, or getting some eyes on a notorious monster camp, they were so willing to help out and I in turn never hesitated in helping them. This made me feel like I was becoming a part of something bigger than myself. The synergy I felt with this community has brought forth a plethora of experiences I’ll forever cherish. I found myself slowly changing from this shy girl who didn’t want to bother anyone to a confident woman with perseverance to help those close to me. I am forever grateful to FINAL FANTASY XI, the company I’ve met along the way, and I won’t ever forget where it’s gotten me today.

 

Kazuoshi Mochizuki (Moochi)

I have two favorite memories of FFXI.

The first is being able to work together with Tanaka, Ishii, Matsui, and Iwao, who I considered superstars growing up playing their games.

The second is being able to plan battle content such as Heroine’s Combat for special events such as Fan Festival and seeing so many people enjoy it.

 

Former Team Members

Devin Casadey

It’s much too difficult to pinpoint a favorite memory of FFXI because there are just too many (I could seriously fill up a book), but it’s always been so much more than just an amazing game to me. FFXI is a medium through which I was able to make friendships that have lasted over a decade. They are the type of friends who even if you haven’t seen or spoken to each other for a long time, it’s like time never passed when you get together again. It was always during those long, late night experience point parties that I made my closest friends!

Despite trying other games, compared to the deep story and the meaningful relationships made in FFXI, it just hasn’t been the same—those feelings and the experience can’t be replicated. Not only did FFXI bring a special community together, it brought people together from all over the world to interact with each other, which is a very unique feature that I enjoyed a lot. My life was forever changed when I picked up the game, and it set me on the path to where I am now.

 

Colby Casaccia

I originally wrote way too much for this, it was tough to salvage anything worthwhile. Looking back at FFXI, it’s impossible to gauge my favorite memory and I’m only drawing up empty as it all syncs together. For me, FFXI was a life altering experience that got me through some incredibly tough times. Every moment of it charmed me; I became a bastion for FFXI, playing hardcore for 8 years. While playing I delved into every nook and cranny of the world, met a legion of lifelong friends and earned unbridled wisdom I’ll never forget! Though I don’t campaign the incandescent world of Vana’diel any more, my home point will always be set to Jeuno.

Auto-translations aside, FFXI will forever be the greatest MMORPGs to ever exist. It’s party combat shaped a social platform that pushed intelligent communication and strategic diversity, the story and lore created a magical journey that echoes the Final Fantasy brand, and the imaginative gear stats formed a system with near countless arrangements of combat intricacy which isn’t seen in today’s market. I will forever remember Final Fantasy XI for more than just a game, it’s a part of who I am and will always have a special place in my heart.

“Even after the blackest night, the golden sun always rises to begin a new morning.” ~ Cornelia

 

Robert Peeler

Planning and working on Fan Festival 2006 which was my second major effort on the team. I really enjoyed meeting with fans and talking about the game, as well as putting together fun activities and plans that fans enjoyed.

 

Bethany Stout

Where do I begin… I have so many fond memories while working on Final Fantasy XI! Hmm… I’ll start with my very first memory of being at Square Enix — that sounds like the perfect place for this.

FFXI was my very first MMORPG that I fell in love with and I made sure that I went to every FFXI Fan Festival that I could. Each year watching Matt Hilton being awesome on stage and seeing the ladies dressed up as Mithras having so much fun lead me to wanting to work for Square Enix more and more until I finally I had the courage to walk up to Yasu Kurosawa at a convention and ask him if he had any position availabilities at FFXI Fan Festival in 2008 as a brand ambassador. Little did I realize I almost scared him off due to the pointy staff I was holding from the booth I was working at… (Sorry about that Yasu!)

Needless to say, he said yes and gave me my first ever job in the video game industry working as a Mithra at FFXI Fan Festival 2008 and I immediately started working at Square Enix the following week.

 

Hiromichi Tanaka

Being able to create a new world that could be considered a second home, which has continued for 13 years and will continue to remain in everyone’s hearts, with the greatest colleagues is my lifelong treasure.


These comments (with the exception of one), were gathered ~October 2015.