News from July 2007
Square-Enix's penchant for remaking their most popular games has been obvious since Final Fantasy III appeared in glorious 3D on the Nintendo DS. In fact, all of the 8- and 16- bit have found their way onto one of Nintendo's handhelds, with a totally new remake of FFIV also on its way. With our favorite series apparently tapped out, what's next?
The answer is SE's other RPG series: Dragon Quest.
According to screenshots from Shonen Jump, remakes are underway for Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI. It appears that graphics will be redone in the vein of FFIII/FFIV.
Will these games make it out of Japan? Square-Enix isn't saying. The series has never been as popular in the United States as it is in Japan, but some of the more obscure series titles have made its way here--Rocket Slime is already available on the DS, with a Wii title and another DS title on the way. Until we have a press release, though, here's hoping!
Posted in: Square-Enix News
Ten years, but the same format for the anniversary message. Random discussion, personal message, future forthcoming fun. Don't skip ahead, please. This took me a while.
There are a lot of people out there who don't understand all the things that go into creating a website. Among those, there are even fewer who actually care, I'm sure. But for lack of a better topic, I'm going to give you a little taste of all the pieces and how they fit together. It's more relevant than you think, since the site is today celebrating a barely-precedented tenth birthday, and I think it's important for all of you to know just how we roll here. Plus it's good for my ego.
I've been a part of a lot of sites over the years, both epic and minute in scale. But the principles in play to make a good one are the same regardless of the size. You have to have someone in place to design the thing in a way that looks good and draws the user in. A good design is just designed enough to be fancy without making the site hard to use. Even more important than that is the content, of course, regardless of what some people might try to tell you. Trust me, those that say that presentation is better than content are those who have lousy content. To have meaningful content, you need to bring something to the table that's both relevant to your audience and is somehow different than what everyone else has. Kids, note that, it's why nobody reads your blogs.
Now, if you want to have a moderately successful site, you can stop there. Nobody would blame you - bringing those two things together alone is quite a feat. But you can keep going. You can market the site, to really give those users who show up something to tell their friends about and to keep them all coming back. You can make the site interactive, so it's not just people showing up to read; give them something to really wrap their hands around. You can begin to focus on refinement, not just creation. You'll learn terms like information architechture, the art of designing your content so it's neatly organized and webbed together in a way that makes it easy for your users to access everything. You'll figure out how to analyze metrics to make sure people are seeing what you want them to, and also that you're giving them the new things that they come to your site to find. And, you learn that from time to time you might have to just burn the whole thing down and build it back up from scratch.
This is relevant because, for the last ten years, we here at the Caves of Narshe have been trying like mad to do all these things in an effort to bring the best Final Fantasy content possible straight to you. Ten years ago, it was just me, sitting at a Pentium-60 with a thousand-page HTML book, and CoN was nothing more than something for me to learn a new hobby. Five years ago, it was a handful of us, most of whom are still here, rushing like crazy folk to get Caves of Narshe version 5.0, the look and feel that you'll now know as "Persona," online. And now, it's a thriving group of people dedicated not only to gaming and Final Fantasy, but also to bringing the love of the most classic Final Fantasy games to the masses. We haven't all been doing it for a decade (though, some days it feels like it, right, guys?), but we are still here because we do it better. All of it.
I think I thank you all pretty... much... every... year, but can you ever get enough of it? I have a lot to thank you for, really. You guys are the ones that come to the site and post at the forums, and come to chat, and generally appreciate the work that we all do for you here. That alone is a lot of the reason that we keep doing this. You guys are the ones that shop at AmaCoN, and every little thing that you guys buy helps pay the bills a little bit. Those of you who talk to me often know I'm cheap, so all those little purchases keep me motivated too! And some of you guys, well, you're the ones that tick me off and incur my wrath. And, in your own little irritating way, by God you all keep me around and active too.
So this year I want to thank absolutely everyone. Not just our oldest members, not just our newest members, not just my staff, but everyone who reads this. That includes you, GoogleBot. It's really a lot more personal than I think it's easy to say, but I'm going to try. Ten years ago, I had no idea that a collection of webpages was going to become a career. I was just killing time one summer, the kind of time you have to kill when you live in the middle of nowhere. Since that day ten years ago, caves and mines and holes in the ground have followed me everywhere. The site went with me to University. The site was there when I got engaged, and later married. The site followed behind when I moved halfway across the country. The Caves got me my first web job, and that was a bare three years ago. I daresay the site will be with me forever—even if one day it does not exist on the web, the education it provided and the people it brought to me will.
The lessons I learned in creating and refining this site also got me my current job, and I don't think anyone who knows me or my line of work would doubt that I've come to benefit significantly from that little turn of events. Take that full circle: I have a fulfilling and happy life, old-man grousing notwithstanding, and a major reason why is because I've been here at CoN for ten years.
I don't expect that you folks out there have had this sort of life-changing experience due to any website, let alone our humble little nook of the internets here. But hey, maybe you should stick around. Post at the forums. Chat with us about random things. Maybe you even want to help out at the site a little, who can say? Maybe in a few years you'll have the same depth of love for this site and what it means that I do. Or maybe you will go out on your own, and start checking out all that gibberish I wrote about a few paragraphs back. If you do, drop me a line ten years down the road. Let me know how it works out for you, and I'll be proud to know I played a small part, just as I hope you all are proud of the parts you have all played here over the years.
So, that's it. Ten years, complete and in the books. And the ledger says that on balance, a fine profit was had by all. But we're clearly not done yet. You'll notice today that our wizard Tiddles has just finished refreshing all the skins for the site and the forums, giving everything a fresh and time-consuming coat of paint. Of course, we've got the CoNtests running, and we plan to have more coming soon as well. The future, in fact the quite-near future, holds even more! We promise that even though it's now been ten years, we will keep you posted on the new stuff if you keep coming to check it out. At Caves of Narshe, we may no longer be just starting, but we're a long way from finishing.
We finally got to the end! After weeks of educated and completely uneducated guessing, it's finally time to present the winners of the CoN Name That Tune quiz game. We had a great turnout of over fifty participants, though not everyone was able to participate each of the three weeks, and the final round was incredibly close, with the difference between first and second place only a matter of minutes taken. From our final round of participants, I'm happy to announce our winners:
- First Place: The_Pink_Nu1
- Second Place: Sherick
- Third Place: FallingHeart
- Special Prize, drawn from all participants: Archetype
As promised, each winner is getting right away, via email, a gift certificate to be used at AmaCoN. As always, supporting CoN by buying everything you can through AmaCoN will feed the beast and allow us to do more and more contests in the future.
And speaking of which, we've got an easy contest for you now, again to celebrate this week's Tenth Anniversary of CoN. We've got ten four by six inch prints of the Caves of Narshe logo just waiting to be mailed to you, and all you need to do is click a button to be in the running to get one. I can't put the button right here, but here's the next best thing: a link to the easy signup page. If you participated in the last CoNtest, you're already in, so don't worry. We'll draw the winners on 12 August!
And one last thing for now: did you miss signing up for Name That Tune? Or did you participate, but want more quizzes? Well, everyone can now play for fun, all eight rounds of quizzes are now open to everyone, and will be for the next month. Just go back to the Name That Tune homepage and kick it back out!
More to come this week, so stay tuned.
Namco Bandai's flagship franchise of RPGs, the Tales Of series, just got a bit more crowded. Earlier today we learned of a new entry to the series on the DS, a highly-anticipated sequel on the Wii, a director's cut of a recent remake, and a port to the PSP.
First off is Tales of Innocence for the DS. The game will ship in Japan before 2007 ends, and is being made by the same team that makes the Radiant Mythology games. Also, the DS has been declared officially as the "lead platform" for the Tales Of series, so we can assume to see a great many more DS Tales games in the future; hopefully they won't be made in the tradition of 2006's universally panned Tales of the Tempest.
In addition to Tales of Innocence, there was an announcement for a director's cut of the PS2 remake of Tales of Destiny, which began life as the second game in the Tales series and the first on the Playstation. We don't know what new features will be present in this re-release of a remake, and it's hard to say when we will; the game has an unspecified 2008 release date in Japan.
Thirdly, there was an announcement for a PSP port of Tales of Rebirth, a 2004 PS2 game that never had a Western localization. ToR is notable for being the first Tales game to use fewer bright colors and more realistic character anatomy than most of its predecessors; design-wise, it essentially bridges the gap between the art styles of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss. There is no announcement yet for a Western release of this PSP port, but it is also scheduled for an unspecified 2008 release date in Japan.
Lastly, Namco Bandai announced a sequel that is sure to excite many Tales fans: Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk for the Nintendo Wii. It is set to take place two years after the events of Tales of Symphonia with in the same world, but starring two new main characters. It is unknown what roles the original cast of Tales of Symphonia will play, but it is safe to assume that they won't be completely absent from the game.
So that's four new games announced from this well-milked franchise, including a new stand-alone title and a sequel to one of the series' most popular entries. 2008 looks to be a very busy year for Tales Of.
Posted in: Square-Enix News
The final round is now underway, again, sorry for the delay. This round will start immediately, and will run until 11:59pm GMT on 24 July, just to make sure that everyone has plenty of time. The final winners will be announced soon after, since I will probably be traveling for work on the 24th and 25th.
This is the round that will determine the winners, folks, so give it your all. We're taking ten of our best performers from the second round to have a shot at the big prize; your finalists, alphabetically, are:
And then we added two bonus participants, footbigmike and MogMaster, due to the fact that they won the two other groups in the second round. So, there you have it, the top twelve folks going for the big prizes, totaling $60 in AmaCoN gift cards!
If you're not in this list, though, make sure you participate in the final week anyway; anyone who participates this week can still be eligible for the $5 consolation prize. And, to help everyone out a little bit, we've updated the hint page to link to our last.fm pages.
Once we finish up this last round, everyone will have a chance to take all the quizzes they weren't able to take as part of the actual contest, and we'll have score leaderboards too. And after that, who knows? We'll try to set something up for you!
Revealed in yesterday's E3 conference, Sony's handheld is now undergoing a redesign. The new one is significantly slimmer and lighter, and now has a video output that lets you play PSP games on a television screen. The new PSPs also feature faster loading times and improved battery life.
These new models will be released in 2007. There is also a new package deal and price point - the "piano black" and "ice silver" color schemes will cost $199 US and come bundled with a 1-gig memory stick, the game "Daxter", and a UMD of "The Family Guy Freakin' Sweet Collection," while a "Star Wars Battlefront Special Edition" PSP (vanilla white with a black image of Darth Vader on the back) will come with the memory stick as well as a copy of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. The original PSP will retain its recently reduced cost of $169 US.
Posted in: Gaming Industry News
In the latest tidbit regarding Final Fantasy IV DS, Square Enix has opened auditions to find a vocalist for the game's title song, Theme of Love.
Auditions are open to anyone 18 and older, regardless of gender and experience. Applicants are required to send in a basic profile, self introduction, photo, and demo tape. And, in the spirit of the auditions, Theme of Love composer Nobuo Uematsu as well as Final Fantasy IV Director Takashi Tokita have recorded their thoughts and discussions regarding the topic of love. Radio streams of this discussion are available on Square Enix's website.
I'm tempted to record a demo tape and send it in. Too bad (or, good thing) I'm very aware of how awful my singing voice is. :P
Nonetheless, this seems a magnanimous choice for Square Enix to make. I'd imagine any FFIV fan, diehard or not, would be thrilled to have their own voice gracing the title sequence of the game. And therefore Square is sure to amass quite a few entires to work through after their July 31 deadline.
On another note, and as a followup to one of our previous FFIV DS newsposts, a few more Shonen Jump scans of the FFIV DS teaser pages are available at French gaming site JeuxFrance.
Sony officially reduced the MSRP of the 60-gig model of the Playstation 3 from $599 to $499, but you can still pay the full six hundred bucks if you want to, as they also announced plans to release a new 80-gigabyte PS3 that will sell from the $599 price point.
Five hundred bucks is still pretty expensive, but hey, five hundred is less than six hundred, right?
Posted in: Gaming Industry News
If you signed up for our contest, well, it's on now. You will have until midnight GMT (7pm EST) next Saturday, 7 July, to get your answers in. You've been broken into four groups, and each group gets a different quiz. The top scorers from each of the four groups will move on to the next round next week.
I'll send out a PM to everyone participating - good luck to every one of the fifty-two of you who signed up!