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News from July 2010

CoN is Thirteen - Other Biblical Plagues to Follow

Caves of Narshe Site News
A lot of architects refuse to put a thirteenth floor in their buildings. Thirteen's an unlucky number, remember? Forget that. CoN's had bad luck already in its days, and the fact that we are now celebrating our thirteenth birthday doesn't scare us one bit. Of course, we wouldn't mind doing what those architects do and skipping straight to fourteen, either, but we're full of integrity and can't pull that kind of shenanigan. So, here's a message to commemorate thirteen years, without a black cat or broken mirror to be found.

Normally I write these new-year messages a long way out and edit them for weeks. This year, on the event of CoN's thirteenth birthday, I didn't really have much time, due to the rest of my life making conspiracies against me. Isn't that the way it goes, though? I can see it in all of us, everyone that comes to the site. Things aren't quite the same as they used to be, as more of us have less time to spend around CoN. It makes our fixes slower, it makes our new work slower, and heck, it even makes the forums slower.

You know what's neat, though? We're still here, and we're still having a go of it. The site still brings in a lot of traffic. That means that even if the forums and chat seem a bit slower than they used to, it's not because people have given up on our version of the Final Fantasy universe - it's just that the game has changed and we all have to change with it.

Change is hard, man. I'm a guy who has lived in four different states in the last seven years, and worked in five. That said, we're all here reading this on a site that has looked the same for even longer, and even though we added a new game to our coverage just last year, along with the return of quizzes, you'd be forgiven for thinking that maybe CoN is afraid of change because it's too hard. The wild thing is that we don't. We lust for change, because we've got some ideas that we really love. Life's just a conspiracy, right? Our lives conspire against us bringing these ideas to fruition.

Here's my plan for next year. I've got coverage for two, maybe even three, games that I want to see revamped. We're working slowly on them now, and we want to work faster. We'll do our best. We've got some changes to the CoN backend that we think will give us more flexibility to continue improving the site in a more efficient manner. The current backend is as old as the Persona layout, and with that extra eight years of knowledge, we now know a lot of things we could do differently and better. We'd love to also make some improvements to such features as our fanart and news systems.

It probably sounds like a lot. It definitely sounds like a lot to a guy who not only makes websites all day, but also does freelance work and CoN both. I feel, though, that if I keep putting effort into the site, you folks will continue to visit. That's the pact between us, and it's held up quite well for the last thirteen years; there's no reason to think that it can't keep going a few more. As always, though, we're going to need your help, as CoN is a volunteer job for all of us - not one of us draws their living from working here. There's always little stuff that we can use, be it testing, or proofreading, or writing, or data entry. Additionally, I'd like to bring on some new staff to help spread the workload a bit, a tack that, if the right people are involved, will speed our progress. Here's what I'm looking at:
News Writer
A new News Writer would be beneficial to CoN in order to keep us up to date on RPG-related news that I too often miss in my reading, and to also help out by writing the Friday Square Enix Tidbits that regularly roll up recent small Square Enix news items. This person should be capable of producing with minimal supervision or nagging, and must be an excellent writer. Application would require some writing samples. Additionally, this user should be familiar with the most basic HTML, until such time as I make the submission tool a bit more user-friendly. Note that CoN also has tools to help you find news, meaning you don't necessarily have to read thirty gaming blogs to do well in this role.
Quiz Master
The Quiz Master would assist me in keeping the CoN quizzes stocked up every month. I know that every month, we release only 24 questions, but you'd be surprised with the preparation it takes. This new staff member would help build up our backlog of questions so that we don't ever run out; therefore, someone who is good with research and plays a lot of video games would be helpful here. Additionally, this person would use the tools that I built over a year ago to add new quizzes to the system; because of the toolkit, no database or coding experience is required.
Social Marketing Assistant
Eventually, important information from CoN, such as news, will be automatically posted to our Twitter and Facebook pages. However, to assist this automated process, or even serve in its stead, I'd like someone to help draw people in to CoN via other social media. It will involve posting tweets and statuses, as well as responding to tweets and comments that we get. It will also involve soliciting new traffic by tracking down new fanartists and fanfic authors to add to our libraries. Applicants must be familiar with various sites that can connect with CoN and how to use their basic features; these applicants must also be capable of writing professionally, as most of the output from this job will be read by users who might not already know CoN. It would be beneficial for this person to also participate in chat somewhat regularly to keep up to date with current work and that social aspect of CoN.
All of these jobs are important to the future of CoN, as we work to keep the site relevant as the games we cover become older and older. What's even better is that working for CoN does help your CV or resume - a good number of staff and former staff list their experience on CoN and have even used me as a professional reference down the road. With the job market still terrible right now, worldwide, perhaps you can spare a few hours a week to build up your own credentials with CoN too?

Whether you feel like applying or not (and there are probably a few of you that I will attempt to coerce into applying), there's something you can take away from this. I and my staff still feel a great deal of gratitude to you folks who keep coming to the site and chatting, posting to the forums, submitting creations, or even just using our guides. That gratitude keeps us here, keeps (some of) us working hard, and keeps me paying the bills. We still have no intention of stepping back, standing still, or going any direction but forward, regardless of speed. It might seem like the most boring amusement park attraction in the world right now, but stay on the ride. We guarantee good times if you want them.
Posted in: CoN Site News

Square Enix News Tidbits: Upgrade Now

Square Enix
Final Fantasy XIV has become the big news, now that it's in a closed beta. I hear that the servers aren't up very often, though, so if you're not in the beta you're probably not missing much yet. (Source: none, the beta players are under NDA.) Squenix has been releasing a bit of information about the game, though, and it seems that if you want to run it at full power, you're going to need a reasonably recent PC. In short, the company is recommending that you have Windows 7 running on an Intel Core i7 with four-plus gigs of RAM, and a screen resolution of 1280x720. I assume this is the recommendation to get a full sixty frames per second, though, as it seems a pretty robust recommendation. One would hope it's still plenty playable on a lower specced machine. Squenix also announced this week the eighteen player classes of XIV, split into four groups. Many are certainly not instantly recognizable, though a great many classic types seem to be represented, such as different mages, a knight-style class, an archer/ranger, and so on. There also appears to be a class who is standing near a sewing machine? I hope I'm just not up to speed on MMO classes and seamstress/tailor is not a class.

Also this week, Square Enix announced a remake of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP. I know a great many folks consider this Tactics Ogre to be at the very least on par with Final Fantasy Tactics, and this new PSP version will be getting new graphics and a new arrangement of the score, new characters, and new game mechanics added to the original game. There's no release date yet for Japan, which means there isn't one yet for the West, but I think the odds of us getting the shaft on this game are exceptionally low. And I'm excited - tactical RPGs on handhelds are a great idea, particularly, I think, if they're from the FFT/TO/Disgaea series.

Finally for this week, Squenix has announced a new Final Fantasy Legends property for mobile phones in Japan. This one is called "Final Fantasy Legends: Warrior of Light and Darkness," and it looks much like an updated 8-bit Final Fantasy, much in the same way of the Game Boy Advance Final Fantasy "Souls" game, but with an episodic release much like Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. What makes this more interesting is that unlike every other game branded with the "Legend" moniker, this game is not a SaGa game at all, but instead a brand-new property, marketed as a Final Fantasy branded game even in Japan. Of course, it may never make it over here, but The After Years did after starting out as a mobile platform game, so you never know.

Source: Final Fantasy XIV Official Site, Kotaku, SiliconEra

Distant Worlds Summer Season Starting

Distant Worlds
I know I've mentioned the upcoming Distant Worlds concerts several times now, and this update doesn't have much brand new information. However, the summer tour is about to kick off, and Nobuo Uematsu has just been confirmed to attend the following shows:
  • July 15 and 16, Los Angeles (both nights will have a different setlist, too)
  • July 22, San Diego
  • July 24, Houston
  • November 27, Toronto

On top of that, on Monday, July 19, there is now a CD release party for the new FFDW CD, in Culver City, California at Royal/T. If you're in LA, though, note that you still need tickets to get into the release party. See the link below for more info.

Source: Distant Worlds
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Star Wars: The Old Republic Testing Begins

Bioware late last week kicked off the first round of user testing for the upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. I'm not sure how many of you saw the game on demo at E3, but I will say that even for me, one who is utterly ambivalent toward MMO play, the game looked pretty great.

That said, this counts as newsworthy for a couple reasons. First, of course, is the fact that it's an MMO by the same company who did Knights of the Old Republic, which is probably one of the top two or three games in the Star Wars Universe. Second is that now that early testing has begun, the game's one step closer to being available. Sure, it won't ever knock off WoW, because, what really could? But this game has the potential to be huge if it's successful in combining MMO players with Star Wars fans en masse.

If you're not in this first wave of testing, but want to have a shot at the next one, there's still time. However, you must be 18 and, if the status of the first wave continues into the second, you must be in North America. Tests later will go global, though Bioware hasn't yet said which phase or when will be open to those outside of North America.

Source: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Square Enix News Tidbits: Consumables

Square Enix
Dragon Quest IX is the big story this week, as it's finally about to make its North American debut this weekend. Squenix and Nintendo have set up a bit of an event in New York City to commemorate the launch; if you're near Manhattan tomorrow, 10 July, you can swing to the World of Nintendo store in midtown (which sadly, I never got to visit when I was living there - it looked awesome from the outside). Yuji Horii, creator of the DQ franchise, will be there, and apparently there will be some Dragon Quest-themed treats for eating too. And you can buy the game a day early! No word on whether you can drink Slimes, though.

My call, though, is that if you really wanted the game that badly you probably preordered it anyway.

In other game news, developer Obsidian says they want a crack at the Chrono Trigger franchise. Obsidian are best known for sequels to original games, one of which they're working on for Squenix already (Dungeon Siege 3). Would they ever get the keys to the castle that is Chrono Trigger? Yeah, pretty much no chance if you ask me. Perhaps they should just start on a sequel and see how far they get.

Finally, here's one that snuck in under my radar: Square Enix and GamePot are bringing a new action MMO to the States. The game, Fantasy Earth Zero, is a free-to-play MMO with a primary focus on large PvP battles. It's been out in Japan for over three years but launched in the US in May.

Source: Kotaku, SiliconEra, Square Enix North America

Square-Enix News Tidbits: Prepare for Grinding

Square Enix
Ah, Squeeeeenix.

Is there much to squee about this week? I believe there is. It does, however, depend on the user, but there's a lot of pretty cool stuff going on at the moment (though some of it may disappoint). First, the piece that is worth checking out in the near future. Square-Enix is looking for applicants to write for the Dragon Quest series. The catch being that the applicants would need to be near Shinjuku, Tokyo. There's an English summary of the application page here, which is pretty interesting. Prize* goes to whoever can create the weirdest storyline from four of those key points. But that's not the only news from Japan - after seeing the success of the Monster Hunter series for the PSP, Square-Enix started developing their own game in the same vein, entitled "Lord of Arcana", also for the PSP. If it doesn't perform as well as they hope, they'll have to rely on the next thing I have for you. And it won't disappoint.

Final Fantasy XIV, the second MMORPG in the main series, will be released this September, at one of two times, depending on your urge to play it. Your first option is to buy the Collector's Edition on September the 22nd, and get a bunch of free goodies that aren't technically free since you paid $25 extra for it. The second option is to wait another 8 days until the 30th, when the standard edition is released for $50. With either choice, you'll get one month of free play time before you have to pay the $12.99 monthly fee. I hate to use dollars to convey the prices, but that's all the information we've got on pricing so far. And hey, it's coming pretty soon. Just be thankful Square-Enix aren't trying to make it in 3D as we- oh wait a minute, there was a tech demo of that at E3. Not that that means anything, as the developers were keen to stress it was JUST a tech demo, but it shows that they, too, are heading down the road of three dimensions.

Finally, a speck of information on the elusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII. At long last, the game's story has been finished, as well as character designs. Now all they have to do, is, you know, make the game. So we're still a long way off of a release date. A loooooooooooooong way off.

*Prize not included.

Source: SiliconEra, Kotaku

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.