CoN History, Part V
The Caves of Narshe - Years Fifteen through Twenty
Last Updated 31 July 2017
As is our wont, we'll talk some more now about the big changes since our last update - somehow, five years ago! You might recall that unlike most similar sites out there, CoN is in fact run by folks who make a living at designing and maintaining websites and apps, so this new CoNHistory update you're reading now will almost certainly veer into the category of "boring technology" from time to time. We're deeply sorry for our inability to communicate like human beings, but, at the same time, most of the really good improvements we've made to how we give you your Final Fantasy fix are technological this time around. So, you've brought this on yourself.
I guess, let's get all that boring tech stuff out of the way, in fact. We'll start with the stuff everyone appreciates - new CoN content. The last time I sat down to write one of these, we'd quite recently released our remaster to the Final Fantasy V section, incorporating coverage for the Game Boy Advance (and, by its nature, the future mobile platform and Windows versions). We followed that for CoNniversary the next year with the same for Final Fantasy VI, adding in coverage for that same subset of game versions and revamping the walkthrough entirely with Djibriel's fantastic guide as a basis. We did the same with Shotgunnova just last year, adding in what is now the most recent game in our stable, Final Fantasy IX. It, too, has an enormous set of data, compiled and curated over the course of nine months or so and confirmed for use on the original PlayStation game (and its digital download progeny) and the mobile and Windows releases too. It became the first all-new coverage on CoN since 2009, and again confirmed the standard for the quality of information that we provide.
This past five years also had us branch out a little in terms of how we provide content to you. We intermittently join the game streaming phenomenon, though, let's be frank - we could be better at it! It's certainly one of our ongoing opportunities and goals, to try to be able to provide streaming content on Twitch of the type that you can only get from CoN. Similarly, we had a good couple years' run at podcasting with the CoNcast, which never picked up as much steam as we would have hoped. This resulted in us putting the podcast on indefinite hiatus after about two and a half years, though we'd be thrilled to possibly combine casting and streaming into something worthwhile down the road.
A lot of what we've done over the last five years, though, is less about content and more about giving you that content in the best possible way. For instance, Tiddles long ago set up a general build process to allow us to work on new features for the site in various ways, such as on one of our development websites, on our own personal machines, inside of virtual webservers, and the like. We're able to work on wildly different projects now and send them out to CoN with a few clicks as they finish, which makes our process easier and less likely to, you know, destroy the entire site in doing. That's good, right?
We also added in some nice features to make the site more useful in the last year, starting with serving all CoN traffic over the secure HTTPS protocol. This is something that most sites of value have done or are now doing, partially because browsers and search engines are pushing users away from less-secure sites more all the time. While we've never been the sort of site to collect lots of data on you that absolutely must be secure [editor's note: only send us your credit card details if you really want us to buy stuff using them], it's important for us and our mission as a professional-quality purveyor of game walkthroughs that we do professional-quality things. In this day and age, that means that we will encrypt everything you send to us via your browser, and we're proud to do so. More recently, we set up our CoN account mechanisms in the forums (but also used for news and fanart commentary, etc.) to allow you to link your CoN information to your social media accounts. This is to make your time at CoN more convenient, of course, but it also helps you keep your account secure as well, by allowing you to give us even less personal data directly in order to be a part of our community.
Our biggest technological breakthrough of the last five years, however, has to be Mobile CoN. As traffic on the web has steadily grown more and more mobile, and less desktop and laptop, CoN has become the best at giving you that content in a readable way on your tablet or phone. We know that when you're playing Final Fantasy VI on your couch, you don't necessarily want to have a computer sitting next to you as well, so we've worked to give you a good experience on a smaller screen so that you can get your questions answered with minimal interruption to enjoying the game you're playing, and that's how it should be.
Speaking of that, it's a good segue into what we've rolled out most recently to freshen up your CoN experience. For the first time in twelve years, redone the core CoN brand to reflect who we are now in 2017 and going forward. We've long had one of the most distinctive brands in gaming websites, in my opinion; over the years I've (anecdotally!) known it to be more recognizable among gamers than even the content of the site itself. Now, it's fresher and cleaner and has been adapted for use sitewide. The new logo takes our classic chocobo-and-diamond shape and makes it considerably more sleek and, for lack of a better term, iconic. There's less going on and more focus on the fact that we're Caves of Narshe - you don't need so much visual flourish to know who we are. Our wordmark follows suit, keeping the same general shape but updating the glyphs themselves to match the text styles used sitewide. All of our modern themes now carry this branding, and the classic themes use pieces of it as well. Tiddles also completely redid the way that Persona and Aluminium works so that they will behave better in today's modern browsers, for those of you who still carry a torch for the site's longest-running default design or the one that proceeded it. There are also a variety of improvements to other site and forum skins, just to keep things moving.
Beyond the simple technology, we worked considerably to broaden the scope of CoN in a few ways. As mentioned before, we released revised walkthrough content for Final Fantasy VI since our last CoNHistory update, and also released coverage for the PSX and mobile/PC versions of Final Fantasy IX, filling both with a great deal of content that is more robust and easier to use than anywhere else online. We also worked hard to spread the mission and quality of CoN elsewhere, with increased social media presence, two visits to PAX East to collect news and opinions first-hand, and two sponsorships in four years of charity Final Fantasy marathons put on by TheSpeedGamers - in all cases, proof positive that the Caves of Narshe is still working within its means to remain relevant for the future. So, if you like CoN like we like CoN, please consider contributing to our community as often as possible, and even volunteering to help our mission; in the meantime, you're yet again all caught up on the history of this big old site!