News from July 2008
I'm going to keep this pretty short this year, for a lot of reasons. For one, in some ways this has been a pretty long and trying year for CoN, and there's no reason to dwell on stuff that's not awesome. For another, I know that a lot of you out there reading this are borderline illiterate, so why should I make life any harder for you than it already is?
Half of that statement above is certainly true. If you're not sure which half, you're likely in the "illiterate" group. I know that, for me and a pretty significant number of my staff, the last twelve months have been pretty trying both personally and professionally. For me in particular, CoN is both; so when we have a bit of a quiet year, like the one ending right now, it feels like quite a blow to the gut. Now, that said, it's not all doom and gloom for the magical CoN crew. We did pretty okay—I mean, we're all still mostly here. Right?
Seriouly, though, we're still a vital and active site, lack of obvious illustrations notwithstanding. Our daily average hit statistic has been trending up for the last year, which is something that really has never not been the case. We still pull a ton of traffic, and we even have managed to pop into the Alexa Top 100k again recently, several times, in fact. We even reached as high as about 84,000. Many of you might recall from way back in 2004 how big a deal that was; well, now there are even more sites on the internet, and we're still reaching higher into those rankings than we ever have before. For the statistically-minded, and especially for me, that's kind of a big deal. As CoN's "competition" slowly continues to slide into obscurity, we continue to assert our place as the one place where you can still find good data, and not be surrounded by people who just don't care any more.
It was a pretty tough year for new Caves development, so I know those of you who ache for more game coverage are probably pretty disappointed right now. We did, of course, manage to blast out the highly-touted Final Fantasy IV upgrade last October, which frankly is a jewel among our coverage. It's technologically advanced, and covers fifteen years of FF4's life. It even gives us a toehold into the truly excellent Nintendo DS remake, launched just nine days ago in North America. If you're a fan of our visual arts offering, too, you should see our new fanart section. Launched just last week, this new section does everything faster and better than the old one, and it will allow us, as it catches on, to get more new fanart to you guys much faster than before, and from many more games. For a site that isn't necessarily "about" fanart, I think we've put together a pretty wickedly robust offering there, and with it being so easy to rate, comment and submit, we definitely want you guys to get more involved.
So here's what we're going to do for 2008-2009. I'm going to quit my job (well, actually, I might just lose it, but it sounds like it has so much more bravado to say "quit," right?), and we're going to streamline our operations to make things faster and more efficient. This will take place via changes to staff, a reorganization of how we handle our projects, and simply by taking more knowledge from what we've done in the past. Our problem has always been that there is just so much fantastic stuff we want to offer you guys, we get bogged down. It's time for us to refocus our work and really work with you all to give you what you want as close to when you want it as humanly possible. We know we're good, and we know you're good, and we all know the site's good. So let's reinforce that fact over the next twelve months, and let's make sure that for all nine of us out there who still enjoy Final Fantasy, all nine of us are thinking of CoN with regards of how to interact with the community.
You all can still help, too. While we might not be looking for full-time staffers for quite a while, those of you who can help collect data, or test things, or do lots of various stuff, can always help and I will try to give more of my time to welcoming you to do it. There's nothing we do that's truly difficult (well, at least not the parts that we'd let anyone touch anyway!), so all you need is a bit of free time and the willingness to understand how things are done, and preferably the opportunity to hang out in chat and not make an arse of yourself while doing so. And if you can't do that, there's always AmaCoN. Even if you have never shopped online in your life, I would wager that you know someone among your friends or family who does. Get them to use AmaCoN; if you're not sure how, just ask. It's not a lie when I say that CoN gets more done when more AmaCoN money comes in, because the more money brought in to pay the site's expenses, the less time I have to spend soliciting freelance work and the more time I can use on improving the site. We want your money, of course. Who doesn't? But at least we want you to get cool stuff from it. We haven't asked for handouts since like 1999. Seriously.
All in all, we still feel that we have a lot to celebrate with this site. We want you to celebrate with us. Every (decent!) post you make is a little bit of celebration. So is every line of chat. So is every rating or comment on a fanart, and so is every time you tell your Facebook friends what a cool place CoN is; heck, you can check out our brand-new Facebook page to make it even easier to share! Help us celebrate the truly one-of-a-kind thing that is the CoN for the next year, and we'll meet again in 365 days to discuss our progress. And one final note, the big news this birthday is not just here. We've got new contests that will be posted... well, posted just below!
CoN Summer CoNtestsAnd here's your contest information! This summer, starting of course today, we're going to be running two contests for the creative folks here at CoN. One will be for new fanfiction stemming from one or more of our currently-covered games, and the other will be for fanart of characters from any Square-Enix game, depicting them on a hypothetical vacation. Submissions are open now, and will be open for some time. If you are interested, or know someone who is, check out our main CoNtests page to get more information. Remember, the only prerequisite to enter is that you be a CoN member.
Posted in: CoN Site News
In a surprise announcement, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada confirmed during Microsoft's E3 press conference today that Final Fantasy XIII is to be released on the Xbox 360, contrary to previous expectation that the title would be released exclusively for PlayStation 3. Wada spoke of his belief that this would broaden the game's availability to North American and European players, though neither he nor Microsoft's press release made any mention of a Japanese 360 release, leading to widespread speculation that the game may remain PS3-exclusive in that territory — news which no doubt has all six Japanese Xbox owners up in arms.
A Square-Enix press conference followed, during which producer Yoshinori Kitase and executive Shinji Hashimoto discussed further details:
- There may be differences between the versions due to the capacity difference between Blu-Ray and DVD. However, the current plan is to keep the content identical. One might speculate, therefore, that the 360 version may come on multiple DVDs.
- 360-specific development is set to begin following completion of the Japanese PS3 version, along with English translation.
- This is a relatively recent decision, largely based on the 360's wide installation base outside Japan. This seems to fit with the notion that the 360 version may not hit Japan.
- Uncategorised additional appendage FFXIII:VS will not be multiplatform. (Presumably just like FFXIII itself wasn't. Just saying.)
It's a good thing nobody bought an expensive, launch-era PS3 just for the promise of a Final Fantasy exclusive. Nobody did that, right?
Microsoft Press Release
Kotaku Liveblog (whatever that means) of the SE press conference
...and even though we won't have all the details until E3, here's a preview to whet your appetite.
Let's get the big one out of the way: Final Fantasy XIII. Yes, they're still making it. ... That's about it. Anyone who thought that was headed anyone's way this year clearly doesn't remember how long it took the previous installment to make it to market, though, and, this time, there are two games to look forward to. With FFXIII/FFVsXIII still at least a year away, maybe it's time to branch off into some of Squenix's other offerings.
For 360 and PS3 owners, the next great RPG comes in the form of The Last Remnant. Microsoft's deal with the devil means that the game will be exclusive to the 360 for a limited time, but, never fear, Sony fans will eventually get a crack at it. The game will feature a new mixture between large-scale tactics and individual battle control in a quest to save the world.
Sadly, Microsoft might manage to hold onto Infinite Undiscovery. Due in September, it stars Capell (a boy who looks like a boy!) and Aya in a (surprise!) quest to save their world.
The return of the Star Ocean series is the next big thing looming on the horizon. While is seems that The Last Hope might end up a 360 exclusive, remakes of the first two games are slated for the PSP. Star Ocean: First Departure will be available in late October of this year, and Star Ocean: Second Evolution will launch in January 2009. Both games will feature enhanced graphics and sound over the originals, which were for the Super Famicom and PlayStation, respectively.
There's plenty for DS fans to look forward to, too. Chrono Trigger and Dragon Quest IV will be making their remade ways to the handheld this winter, and a full remake of Final Fantasy IV is due at the end of this month.
Lastly, if you've always wanted to play an RPG on your iPod, now's your chance--Song Summoner has arrived. The title appears to be a tactical RPG that draws on your iPod playlist to create party members...or "Tune Troopers", as the case may be. If that sounds intriguing, it's only $4.99 to satisfy your curiosity.
Posted in: Square-Enix News
So we know that it's been discussed a bit already, but this is news big enough that it simply must be brought onto our front page: Chrono Trigger is coming to the Nintendo DS.
Of course, the new version is going to be somewhat different, very likely in terms of a new dungeon, since that tends to be the stock addition to all of the Square-Enix remakes coming out these days. However, I'd also expect it to contain all of the additional data tables found in the PSX version, and of course the animated cut scenes. Finally, since this is coming out for the DS, there's no reason not to expect a great deal of interactivity between top and bottom screens. Heck, they even say that in the press release.
The final big news for today is that we now have an English-titles trailer; it's nothing amazing, but it does show that the gameplay and in-game graphics won't be changing, and it does give a launch window of Winter 2008, surely meant to imply that it will be launching just before Christmas. We will have, of course, links for you to preorder the game as we get them.
Source: Square-Enix North America
The development team for Final Fantasy IV DS, beyond simply having a blog, is opening itself up for a web-based question and answer session with us, the fans, starting now. This is all being facilitated by the Square-Enix Members Blog, and you have to have an account to participate, but if you don't have one and don't feel like signing up, please feel free to ask your question right here and I'll be happy to submit it on your behalf.
They're a bit nebulous on the deadlines for submitting questions and the posting of the collection of answers, but I would imagine that all of this will be happening over the next couple weeks so that they can publish the final article no later than the North American release date of the DS game, which is still currently scheduled for July 22.
Square-Enix Members Blog