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News from July 2006

The Birthday Where R51 Doesn't Quit

Caves of Narshe Site News
I briefly debated just re-posting last year's CoN birthday message. I'm awful lazy. After nine years I'm allowed to be, right? Caves of Narshe has now been a part of me for over a third of my life. I think I've earned it.

But really, the reason behind it is more that the results of this year are not dissimilar from those of last year. Some good stuff, some rough stuff, all the same stuff. Of course, I like talking about the good stuff. So, since I'm posting this in the news forum, let's start with our news coverage. Since last birthday, we've had three and a half pages of news posted here in the default forum view. That's somewhere on the order of 100+ threads started by our news staff in the last year, an average of one every three days or so. That gives you guys a lot of great information to learn and discuss, and it's all thanks to our great news team (all added in the last year!) - Silverfork, Karasuman, Laszlow, and Zero_Hawk.

We've increased our rate of fan media on the site as well, again thanks to some new staff, in this case Mimic, Kappa, and Del. Now you needn't see new art on the site only once a year, but more like twice. Or three times. Hey, you want more, you submit more! Really, though, we're as pleased as can be with the submissions we're getting both in terms of quantity and quality, so definitely keep it up and we'll do the same.

Chat recently has been pretty explosive, we're starting to turn around the numbers for that part of the site as well. If you've never chatted before with CoN or even anyone, it's actually worth your time. We've got people online most all the time now; I and the Britons of the site tend to anchor down the American morningtime (it's the best way for me to avoid work), and then a large collection of staff, members, and thoroughly random people stop by all hours of the day to join in. And after I take my old, decrepit self to bed, I assume it's some sort of scary after-hours sort of get-together. Climhazzard won't tell me what all goes on. It seems that what happens in CoNChat stays in CoNChat - unless it ends up in our collection of #narshe humor, CoNQMS. We're not all Final Fantasy all the time, and a visit to chat will definitely confirm that for you.

Now the site, the site. Well, as most of you probably know, we crossed the one-hundred-thousand post mark here at the forums since our last birthday, and we're rapidly closing in on 125k as I write this. We also have just crossed the barrier of 2700 members signed up. And now due to some upgrades to the signup process, we're pretty sure the new folks aren't spambots, either! So you new folks, maybe you might want to consider making your first post right here in this thread to give your congrats, and then head off to the Greetings forum to tell us a bit more about yourself.

The content areas of the site, where we still give you the best Final Fantasy coverage you can find for the classics, are still getting better. Of course, I don't have quite as much great stuff to say as in the last message about our content because frankly we've slowed down a bit from our torrid - as if - pace of adding Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy VII in 2005. We did, very recently, though, upgrade most of our Final Fantasy V data, improving by leaps and bounds what might have been our weakest content section. We have more to come for FFV, so stay tuned. Also, it's a thinly veiled secret that we're also doing some work on upgrading other content, notably Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV. And Djibriel has been hard at work behind the scenes with some Final Fantasy VI tweaks, too. You'll know more as we finish, of course. We do like to trumpet such things from the minarets and all.

And, of course, you'll actually be able to see all this great stuff as it finishes, because we've had six months of nearly rock solid server performance, too. That's a far cry from where we were 365 days ago, isn't it? Since we moved in late January, our downtime has been virtually nil - we've been, on average, up 98.5% of the time, and we've had 99.5% or higher for the last two months. You don't have to worry about not coming here due to downtime, or not telling your friends about us because they won't be able to get here anyway, because it just won't happen now. Reap the fruits of my out-of-pocket expenses.

I've decided to bury the boring stats bits a bit lower this year just in case I'm the only person who cared. But thanks to our increased forum traffic and reliable server, we're having a massive year so far in terms of traffic. July's numbers won't be final until about 24 hours after I've posted this message, but I've extrapolated the numbers a bit to find that July of 2006 will finish at about 80% higher than January '06 (the month in which the server was worst-behaved this year) in terms of pages viewed, and 44% higher for both unique visitors and bandwidth pushed out. Now, when you consider a more normal month, this time last year, we're up a more standard number, roughly 20%. While that may not sound like much compared to January, imagine a corporation that grows 20% a year, as we have done the last two years running. You'd be looking at one amazingly successful and wealthy business, let me tell you.

So that's where we're at after nine complete years of being both a site and a group of individuals brought together under one banner. We'll make ten years. After that, who knows? Fifteen? Twenty? Will we be here, from nursing homes, with our brainscan PCs, thinking out horrible topics about why Sephiroth could, like, totally crush Kuja even if, OMG, they switched outfits and Seph was in a hot bishie thong? Lord, I hope not. Let's, instead, just take each year as it comes and enjoy the things that make us different, and maybe even a little bit better than other sites out there in the ether? My staff and I are turning the corner and getting motivated again after a year of general downtime, so definitely stick around and watch what we've got coming up. We'll thank you for it then just like we're thanking you right now (thanks, by the way).

Enjoy the site in the way that we enjoy presenting it to you.
Posted in: CoN Site News

The End of E3?

E3 Expo
Apparently it's been discovered that E3 is destined to come to an end, this last years E3 being that last one due to companies withdrawing. In other words, our favorite Big Wig Video Game Companies have started pulling out of E3, deciding that marketing purely with their own company would be more efficient and cost effective. Without the support of the big boys for software and hardware manufacturing, there would be no point in continuing the event.

I, personally am very sad about this happening, I was hoping to go to E3 this next year.

Source: Next Generation

Square Enix 2006 Release Dates

Square Enix
According to this nifty RPGFan article, Square-Enix has released a new statement on the rest of their 2006 releases, including specific American release dates for three games.

Dirge of Cerberus ~Final Fantasy VII~ will be released on the Playstation 2 on August 15th, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime will be released on the Nintendo DS on September 19th, and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria will be released on the Playstation 2 on September 26th.

Also confirmed to be released later this year but after September ends are Final Fantasy XII for the PS2, Final Fantasy III and Children of Mana for the DS, Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors for the Wii, and Final Fantasy V Advance and Final Fantasy VI Advance for the Game Boy Advance. We have no official release dates for any of those six games, but many publications and retailers have already posted release dates for several of them, including an October 31st release date for Final Fantasy XII and an October 30th release date for Children of Mana.

PlayStation 3 Doomed to Upset Sony's Lead?

Playstation 3
Yesterday, the San Diego-based DFC Intelligence delivered an industry briefing expanding upon the firm's previous assessment that Sony's PlayStation 3 is likely to take last place in the next generation's console market. According to DFC, Sony's intent to launch the PS3 with a $600 price tag may primarily discourage consumers and the industry alike, forcing the company into "handing its competitors a golden opportunity" to get ahead.

Ken Kutaragi, Sony's CEO, has reportedly stated that the PS3 is more comparable to a computer than a traditional gaming machine in that upgrades such as a writable Blu-ray drive and increased system memory are possible. The firm, speaking of differing ways in which the PS3 could disrupt Sony's current market lead, believes these upgrades will result in a steep price incapable of decreasing at a quick rate similar to that of most game systems: "By fixing its hardware standard for several years, video game console systems have been able to significantly lower prices over time by not having to upgrade to the latest technology," DFC points out.

Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360, on the other hand, both have the potential to become the leader in installed base, says DFC. Although Japan isn't about to warm up to the Xbox 360, the North American market provides it the strength it needs to dominate the gaming front. However, the Wii - with its broad range of appeal and the lowest price of the three consoles - "could end up number one in market share for the next generation."

In the end, the intelligence firm remains ever-critical of Sony, predicting that its "techno-elite" approach may lead to the PS3 finding itself with a market share more along the lines of Apple products in a world of PCs.

Or not. Who knows.

Source: GameSpot

Wii-mote News Update

Thanks to Elessar for sending me the link!

Earlier this week, more details were divulged regarding the most revolutionary aspect of it's no-longer-Revolution-ary console. Even though Nintendo has been keeping things quiet, it seems that IGN has managed to obtain some developement documentation that sheds light on some of the mysteries.

In the age of recharging units for everything from cell phones to iPods, a lot of the speculation regarding the controller revolved around whether or not it would be a hassle to keep in good working repair. No one wants to have to buy expensive batteries when the original ones lose their charge capacity, and keeping track of a charging unit isn't much fun, either. Fortunately, it appears that the Wiimote will be powered by cheap AA batteries with an expected life of 30-60 gameplay hours, depending on whether the full functionality of the remote is used.

Most of the rest of the technical information creates more questions than it answers, but you can join the speculation below:

Source: IGN via Elessar

Out with the UMDs, in with the new!

Sony's tale of woe with UMD (Universal Media Disc) movies seems to be reaching a conclusion. Despite a strong initial release, lackluster sales of the expensive releases of movies you probably own on DVD but can't yet play on your PSP because Sony wants to milk more money out of you have plumetted to the point where even Target won't stock them anymore. (And I thought they sold anything!)

But, never fear! Sony is getting the point. Well, not really, but at least they've realized that UMDs have gone the way of the dinosaur. Instead of relying on a physical format, Sony is now selling movies online. But it's complicated--they have a very limited selection of movies no one really wanted to see in the first place, and even though you download all four (yes, only four right now), you can only unlock a single one.

The best part of this deal is that the unlocking process automatically converts the movies to the right format, whereas movie enthusiasts who burn DVDs to watch on their PSP have to convert them to MPEG-4 themselves.

Of course, the natural way to read this scenario is that Sony screwed up with their overpriced UMD format in the first place, and that they're now trying to hang onto the movie market however they can. It's not like movie-to-memory-stick is a new concept for PSP owners! But Sony, the monolithic corporate entity which is never wrong, refutes this suggestion, insisting that they planned this all along, even if the UMD hadn't completely flopped.

Uh huh. Right.

Source: GameSpot

More Final Fantasy III DS Media, Ahoy!

Square Enix
Square-Enix has thrown eager fans yet another bone in the form of some spankin' new media concerning the Nintendo DS's remake of Final Fantasy III. Featured within this batch is a handful of screenshots depicting the different modes of transportation accessible across the game's World Map. The real highlight, however, is a new gameplay movie showing off a brief portion of dungeon exploration as well as the characters engaged in battle - a boss battle.

Final Fantasy III DS is now set to release in North America on October 3rd.

Old Games Coming to New Systems

After acquiring several games formerly owned by the game published Acclaim in an auction last year, Toronto-based Throwback Entertainment announced that several of their higher-profile acquisitions would be brought to the next generation.

This announcement included some ofAcclaim's most recognizable titles, such as Vexx, Extreme-G Racing, and Legends of Wrestling. Now that the appropriately-named Throwback owns the rights to these games, they're well-placed to continue to expand the franchises with new, next-generation content.

This makes me wish that a certain other gaming company would auction some of its "throwback" games. It's sad that it takes dissolution to get a company to poop or get off the pot when it comes to out-dated video game franchises that still claim loyal fans.

Source: GameSpot

Dutch PSP Ad Deemed Racist; Sony Disagrees

A new billboard in Holland advertising the white PlayStation Portable has sent a US civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), into an uproar. The ad itself boasts a white woman with white hair and matching clothes grasping a black woman's jaw; the text reads, "PlayStation Portable White is Coming."

The San Jose branch of the NAACP issued a statement claiming Rick Callender, chapter president, had referred to what was a recent assertion of racism toward the seemingly innocent PSP game LocoRoco, stating: "The days of blacks being portrayed in minstrel shows ["blackface" music and comedy skits] are long gone, and with good reason. The minstrel show was an awful chapter in history and this ad smacks of that age and time."

Despite currently being exclusive to the Netherlands, Callender refocused his ire on the billboard. "The latest Sony ad conjures up bad memories of when stereotypical and offensive images of people of color were accepted means of selling a product. Sony should immediately apologize and discontinue these archaic advertising tactics." Leland Yee, California's Assembly Speaker, agreed with the comments made by Callender, adding: "I am deeply disappointed in Sony's senseless decision to publish this racially-charged advertisement. I can't begin to determine Sony's motivation but I believe this marketing strategy is unnecessary and is clearly offensive to many in our community."

In response to the NAACP, a Sony spokesperson has insisted that the images are not intended to be racially offensive nor are they meant to be taken as such.

"The marketing campaign for the launch of the White PSP in the Benelux focuses on the contrast between the Black PSP model and the new Ceramic White PSP model. All of the 100 or so images created for the campaign have been designed to show this contrast in colors of the PSPs, and have no other message or purpose."

One must wonder how different the arguement would have turned out had the same ad been for the black PSP instead...

Sources: EuroGamer
GAF - Billboard Images

Final Fantasy V Data Upgrade

Caves of Narshe Site News
For all those who have complained about our Final Fantasy V data in the past, don't worry, we just finished upgrading a ton of it! And for those of you (roughly 93%) who have never been into that section, well, now you have a reason to go.

We've done a fresh dump of enemy data from the game and input it into our data tables, which freed us up to do a lot of new stuff. For one, we have doubled the details we will give you for each enemy, including various strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and win/steal data. That allowed us to upgrade some other sections too - the magic page now will show you where to buy, win, or steal or learn certain spells, and weapons, armor, and items all crossreference the shop and enemy data tables to pull the same data.

As always, we won't guarantee that some little irritants didn't slip through, but we did a ton of QA work here that should have caught the bulk of it. This project took us several months of starts and stops, and I had a ton of help. Thanks a lot to all of the following:

  • Silverlance for generating the data dumps;

  • Caesar and Djibriel for analysing, proofreading, and translating the dumps as needed, and checking the input to our tables;

  • MogMaster and Karasuman for the help in additional manual data entry after the first batch upload;

  • And, finally, Del S for doing more data entry, testing, fact checking, and general raw effort than you can throw a Fire Skill at.

Tokyo Game Show to Draw Record Numbers

Tokyo Game Show
Japan's Tokyo Game Show, scheduled to be held at the Chiba prefecture's Makuhari Messe from September 22nd through the 24th, should be packed with an alleged record number of participating companies this year. According to a recently updated list, the annual show's organizers are anticipating their largest ever group of 134 exhibitors presenting about 1,702 game related products. Additionally, over 160,000 in attendance are surmised for the 10th anniversary event - a total slightly below last year's.

The three-day show's theme this year, as disclosed by the Tokyo Game Show website, is "new stimulus, new feeling, new era." In the words of the Japanese game industry trade body Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA), "[the theme] is meant to reflect the changing and converging landscape, one in which consumer consoles, online games, mobile games and next-gen are all supported."

As a final note, Nintendo, formerly holding its Space World event each year as a means in which to publicly showcase its upcoming games and systems exclusively, will once again forgo making an appearance at the TGS.

For more information on the Tokyo Game Show, check out the event's official website (in English).

Source: Gamasutra

Caves of Narshe Version 6
©1997–2018 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

All fanfiction and fanart (including original artwork in forum avatars) is property of the original authors. Some graphics property of Square Enix.