For Final Fantasy XIV's 10th Anniversary, One Player Created a 1.0 Archive

6 Sep 2023

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and both Square Enix and the community have been looking back and celebrating the occasion. However, Final Fantasy XIV is actually older than that. Many players either will remember, or have heard about the initial 1.0 launch of Final Fantasy XIV. The original version of the game ended in the Seventh Umbral Calamity that players got to remember in the newly added questline in the game.

What’s left of 1.0 can be found scattered around the internet, including old websites, YouTube videos, and even on our FFXIV Wiki. In an effort to put 1.0 information together in one place, community member Sounsyy went on their own journey and created an entire archive of over a thousand pages.

We talked to Sounsyy to tell us about their own journey through Eorzea and their work on the archive.

Q: When did you start playing?

I started playing about a month or so after 1.0’s original launch in 2010 coming off of about 4 or 5 years playing in FFXI.

Q: When did your fascination with the story / lore start?

I think from the very beginning, but I don’t think it was something I realized I had been grabbed by until much later when the servers were shutting down. One of the great things about XIV (and maybe simultaneously not one of its best qualities?) was this sense of mystery the story had about it. Like, if you wanted to figure out what characters were talking to you about, you had to pay attention and maybe even dig a little. 1.0 was not going to feed you! I didn’t make sense of half of 1.0’s Echoes until much later. So in a way the game demanded you pay some kind of attention to the narrative. And I like that in media.

Q: When did you start becoming active in the community?

This didn’t happen until much later, after the 1.0 servers had shut down. In that downtime, I remember there was a lot of promotion and hype about A Realm Reborn coming out later that year and so we had a lot of prospective players join linkshell blogs I was a part of. And they had questions. And for whatever reason I happened to remember a lot of the answers, so I started answering people’s questions. I remember I did a few overview posts about the three starter city-states on one of those sites. But I think I also joined up on the Hydaelyn Roleplayer Coalition website around this time and that’s where I really got my start doing pretty much the same thing from about 2013-2016-ish. And that turned into the Mirke Menagerie tumblr I’m still running, where people can send me questions and (sometimes) I’ll write up everything we know about that thing. I think that started in 2015.

Q: How do you remember the Calamity? Both the shut down of the server and the game’s rebirth?

I played all the way up to the end, including that whole last week where server progress wasn’t being saved. The Great Goobbue Wall, mammoths and Nael van Darnus clones in the streets of Ul’dah killing crafters who were away from their keyboard. I went to Mor Dhona to fight the VIIth Legion but it was so laggy I died instantly and ended up returning to hang out with some friends outside Ul’dah when the servers went off. It was kind of an emotional time because I feel like there was this sense of comradery with legacy players because a lot of us were stubbornly still playing this game everyone had deemed “bad” and for a long time we weren’t sure was even going to get a successful reboot. They had released a list of server and datacenter changes too. I used to play on Wutai which became Masamune (JP) so a lot of us had decided to jump ship to other servers (I ended up on Hyperion and then later Balmung) but I had a lot of friends who had decided to stay even though they weren’t in the JP region. So when ARR finally came out it felt really great to be able to come back, re-experience the world, and reconnect with a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen since the servers shut down. ARR gets a lot of flak nowadays but I’m still quite fond of it for that reason.

Q: What motivated you to start this endeavour? And when did you start?

I’ve had this on the backburner for a while. I’ve been doing lore posts that pulled from a lot of 1.0 lore pretty much since I started answering questions. At first because that’s about all we had to go off of, and then later because I still firmly believe that history is an important aspect of understanding XIV’s setting today. There are certain things ARR just does not explain to players who did not experience Iwao-san’s initial worldbuilding. But I always had incredible resources like Gamer Escape, ChrysalisWiki, XIVDB, ZAM, or even YouTube to fall back on when I didn’t have my own notes or couldn’t remember something. And this project started because most of those resources are gone now. A lot of old 1.0 YouTube content is private or just doesn’t exist anymore. Earlier this year, ChrysalisWiki announced that they were temporarily taking down the site due to costs and traffic. You can’t even access the 1.0 FFXIV official site on Wayback Machine. It really started to feel like this archival project was a necessity at that point. I’m not in anyway trying to replace what’s already out there. Wikis provide so much more information that I just can’t on my own, and I have an immense amount of respect for everyone involved maintaining pretty much the last two places this information can still be found on the internet. But that information, 1.0’s story especially, is becoming less accessible every year and there’s bits that even I couldn’t find.

Officially, my oldest Google Doc says I started on April 30 2022. I know I started collecting data for this much earlier, but that’s probably accurate to when I went full project mode into actually taking that data and putting it down somewhere.

Q: Why is it so hard to get this information these days?

This kind of follows up on my answer before, but a lot of it is accessibility. The information itself is becoming harder to come by, data loss happens, websites from that time period go dark, but – on top of all of that – a big factor is most people just don’t know where to look. The information is out there! But if you’re someone who started playing in Shadowbringers you probably don’t know where to find it. This is kind of the same reason I started doing big lore posts in the first place a decade ago. This game has a ton of lore, but the MSQ isn’t where you’ll find most of it. Some of the best finds are tucked away in Levequests, Triple Triad, or the fishing log! I realize not everyone is going to look, or know to look, in all these places so I put it all together in one place where people can read as much or as little as they would like to. But at least all the info is in one place.

Q: What was the process of getting all the information? What did the research and collaboration process look like?

At any given point, I had 30+ tabs open to whatever I was working on that week. Open World NPC dialogue was the biggest hurdle. I had maps up that showed every NPC in every 1.0 zone, and so I went down the list googling “ffxiv 1.0 ‘<npc name>'”. I want to stress how essential sites like Gamer Escape and ChrysalisWiki were to this process, but there was a lot of missing data here. If a 1.0 NPC had been re-added to the game in ARR onwards, that meant that their 1.0 data and dialogue may or may not have been overwritten. Endwalker, Sharlayan especially, reused a lot of 1.0 NPCs. So that became a huge setback. Around 1.19, a lot of NPCs also started seeing dialogue changes to talk about Dalamud turning red. So then the hunt began for finding out what they said before that. It really came down to checking one site, rechecking another, going on YouTube to just look through the backgrounds of videos to see if I had missed an NPC name in an area. Maybe the Twelve were merciful and someone even talked to an NPC they didn’t have to in a video!!?! Quests followed a pretty similar pattern. Finding the quest-relevant dialogue was usually easy enough, but like in the current game, there’s a lot of other not quest-essential NPCs you can talk to during any given quest and I ended up being at the mercy of how fastidious YouTubers like ChrysalisWiki or WotgAshiee or Leonesaurus were about talking to everyone and not cutting that content. My biggest shoutout has to go to AnonyMoose, who has always been around to help me when I can’t find something. And this archival project was probably the biggest case of “Moose, I can’t find this!” to date. I’m super grateful because this project probably would not have achieved the level of completeness or polish it has without their help. Beyond that though, I didn’t really collaborate with anyone directly. This is mostly just my hyperfocus.

Q: What characters, story threads or even areas from 1.0 would you like to see make a comeback?

I think some of the changes they’ve made over the years make a lot of sense and are essential to a fun, strong game’s longevity. There’s a lot of stuff that had to change. We saw this pretty recently with Thavnair being very different in Endwalker than it was shown before that. Tural’s already had me start rewriting parts of my New World post, and that’s probably for the best! But sometimes they also change other things that make no sense to me or throw out pages of lore and don’t explain why the change happened, and that can be quite frustrating as someone who archives all of said pages! I miss a lot of the 1.0 class quest NPCs. I’d really like to see more of Lewena or Nenekko make a comeback. I really thought we might get Nenekko and the Miner twins for Sil’dihn Aquaducts. Lewena is stuck in Gold Saucer. We’ve also just not seen much love for anything from Iwao-san’s Gridania. Limsa’s and Ul’dah’s original story arcs got closure, I’d like to see the same for Khrimm and Fye in some capacity. For zones, I think it’s a shame Heavensward only added one area of Coerthas back, I’d like to see what a revamped Eastern Highlands look like. Let Estinien go home to Ferndale and put that ghost to rest finally.

Q: Creating this archive took years, so how do you feel now that you’re done? Do you have any other projects you want to talk about?

I’m proud of the work and I’ve honestly just been floored by the reception it’s gotten so far. Digital archival feels like such a niche interest, as does 1.0, so its such a relief to see people react positively and be excited about it. I know I just released this, but it still doesn’t feel quite “done” yet, so I’ll keep working on it for a bit. I haven’t made any hard plans beyond this yet. I’ve got a fishing lore doc that needs updating. I’ll probably do a post about everything we know about the void next. That seems topical for 6.x’s conclusion!

Sounsyy has their own lore blog on Tumblr and can also be found over on X. If you want to know more about 1.0 or talk about the game, their DMs are open! Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us and congratulations to finishing this year-long project!

Images courtesy of Square Enix and taken by Gamer Escape.