It was May the 16th, 2002 and I remember that day like it was yesterday. At that time I used to travel to Japan rather frequently due to my job, and incidentally (and quite conveniently) I was in Tokyo. I remember the excitement when I walked back to the hotel with a copy of Final Fantasy XI and a brand new Japanese PS2 to play it.
I also remember overhearing a couple young Japanese gamers commenting on how the game would have flopped terribly, because the Final Fantasy franchise would have never worked as a MMORPG. It wasn’t really surprising, after all: back then a large percentage of gamers in Japan didn’t even know what a MMORPG was.
Yet, today Final Fantasy XI celebrates its eleventh anniversary, and does so as the most profitable Final Fantasy title of all time.
To celebrate the anniversary Square Enix opened a special website and is holding multiple events, including a Mob Bonanza and a shield design contest (that will require players to design a shield themed on the world of Vana’diel). For the occasion the publisher also released a commemorative illustration by Yosuke Naora (Art Director of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X and Type -0) that you can see above.
Here’s to you, adventurers of Vana’diel that eleven years ago took the first shaky steps out of Bastok, San d’Oria and Windurst to brave a new world that at that time was completely unknown.
It was also quite scary, as back then MMORPGs weren’t easy walks in the park as they are today. I definitely remember the tension of my first trip to Jeuno surrounded by monsters that would easily one-shot me, or the adrenaline pumping as I braved Orc-infested camps for the quest to unlock the Paladin job.
To celebrate in my own little way, below you can see a little piece of vintage machinima I worked on about a year later, directed by the talented Aladora (If you played Dark Age of Camelot back in its golden age you probably know who she is). Those were the days…