Caves of Narshe Interview with 1up.com
In March 2010, CoN's Rangers51 participated in an interview with 1up.com's Nadia Oxford for part of her story regarding gaming fansites. Portions of the interview were included in the main article at 1up, but for fans of CoN, we've included the entire interview below. Thanks for reading and being a CoN fan!
1up: What inspired you to first start the CoN? How old were you?
R51: I first started CoN out of raw boredom. I was seventeen, and it was the summer between high school and university; I was in training for soccer, and as such I didn't have a summer job that year, and I kept strange hours in general. I wanted to learn a bit of HTML for fun, and Final Fantasy VI (still called III here in the States back then) seemed like a good subject, because I loved the game and the variety of data it contained allowed me to do a lot of different stuff with the site. Without having much to do or a set schedule, the project quickly filled my entire summer to get off the ground.
1up: Is there a particular reason why the CoN specializes in "older" FF titles?
R51: Well, in truth, when the site started, FF6 was still the newest Final Fantasy there was. Final Fantasy VII wasn't yet released in the West, and even if it were, I didn't have a PlayStation at the time so I didn't really care. By the time we did start adding new game content a few years later, of course, Final Fantasy VII and VIII were both out; we'd already started to look more towards the older games at that point, though. Part of the reason was pure pragmatism - we saw that sites like Final Fantasy Gurus and Final Fantasy Online (the former now dead, the latter stagnant outside of its community aspects, it seems) that were doing a great job covering the newer games. To try to compete against those sites for a finite number of viewers seemed like a losing proposition. It wasn't just that, but the circle of friends who helped me grow the site in those years all grew up playing the earlier games as well. The older stuff still has a great audience, and it's still special to a lot of people. It's just a happy accident that we chose to fill a niche by way of our own preferences.
1up: How have you managed to keep yourself (and your staff) motivated over all these years?
R51: It ebbs and flows, and we've had a lot of turnover in staff since I added my first real staff a decade ago. It's no different than a real job, because you'll always have people who tire of the work and want to move on to something else. The only difference is that CoN pays a lot less. I keep myself motivated mainly because the users keep coming. As long as the users have a desire to see my work, it's hard for me to turn them away. There's a sense of obligation there that might be non-existent in reality, but in my mind, it means a lot. As for the staff, well, I have to say that it's largely fear. I frighten a lot of people. Really, though, I think that we've done a good job of bringing people in that both enjoy the games and enjoy producing good product, the same as I do. All of the staff has come either from the CoN community or other groups in which I've participated over the years, and for that reason we all have common ground regarding what makes CoN good. It's a lot easier to communicate goals and achieve them, albeit slowly, when you are working with a group of folks who "get it."
1up: Do you have any insight into the state of fanpages in general? Back when the CoN started, fan websites were more plentiful, but have since petered out in favour of bigger database-type sites and Wikis. Do you ever get nostalgic for "the old days?"
R51: Things change. The web has become more and more commercially viable since CoN started, and that kind of wave really does create new paradigms all the time (though my second-in-command and good friend Neil would probably dislike that "Web 2.0" kind of talking). The way I see it, there's not a lot of point in looking back at the way things used to be, because they just won't be that way again. I also feel that giant aggregators of content, even Wikis, tend to lose a lot of the personality and style that can be kept by publishing content that features a more consistent voice. I'm happy that we can still carry the banner for sites that have a unique or idiosyncratic way of providing content to the fans, even if sites like CoN become more and more an endangered species.
1up: Has maintaining the CoN influenced any major real-life events, like work or relationships? Do you feel like you've "grown" in any regard since the site first went online?
R51: Well, I've grown quite a bit, it has to be said. I've known CoN for about six months longer than I've known my wife, for instance. Beyond that, I've gone from a kid who had yet to even hit eighteen to a... well, a man, though that always seems like an odd label to attach to oneself, who will be turning thirty in a couple days (29 March, if the readers want to send gifts). I can't even fathom all the ways I've changed and grown over the last thirteen years, but I can say that CoN has been there the whole way, and has brought to me a number of friends who I would count among my very closest. A lot of people, though the number dwindles with each new internet generation, still scoff at the notion that a group of "e-friends" could ever provide the type and quality of support of people you know in real life. It's just not the case, and the opportunity to learn that has been really significant in my life.
Just as important, though, has been the fact that CoN opened doors for me and showed me what I wanted to do with my career. By the time CoN was three, I was certain that I wanted to be a "web guy" once all was said and done. I've been accused of using CoN as a resume builder, and to some extent I guess that's true. The things I learned as the leader of CoN got me my first internship in web development in college, got me my first real web job a few years later, and has given me the chance to work with Fortune 500 companies, major sports leagues, and TV networks in my still-young career. It's made me a better developer, a better leader, and it's made me more aware of what the web is about and where it might be going. It's cliche to say that CoN changed my life for the better, but, do the math. It's completely obvious.
Again, to see the full article and learn more about some other historically significant gaming fansites, visit 1up today!