Final Fantasy XIV just celebrated its second anniversary, and it did so in an interesting way. I didn’t want to write about it until it was over with, just to prevent spoiling the in-game event, The Rising, which is the first of its kind I’ve ever seen in an MMO.
The event started out as one might expect: a citizen of Ul’dah needs assistance. We accept the task and head out to an event FATE where we assist the Wandering Minstrel, an NPC that high level players have met several times before, in squashing mechanical bugs that threaten to infest the land. Then we run about the town on a quest to find a way to put a stop to the bugs for good.
That’s when something odd happens. Our characters in FFXIV are gifted with a special sight known as the Echo. This allows us to see and sense things, often vision about the past, that other people cannot. This time, our vision takes us to a whole new place.
Welcome to the Eighteenth Floor
The moment I stepped into the strange secret room, known as the Eighteenth Floor, I knew what I was looking at. In his newest Letter from the Producer, game producer Naoki Yoshida (better known by the fans as Yoshi-P) said that the event was a bit old school. I was delighted to discover what that meant when I finally got there.
The Eighteenth Floor is a Developer’s Room (also sometimes called a Developer’s Office). I’m a huge fan of the original Final Fantasy IV, which was the game that introduced the concept of a Developer’s Room to me. This is a secret room where the devs code in avatars to represent themselves and leave messages from them for the players to discover.
That’s essentially what the Eighteenth Floor is. If there was any doubt about it, the newest FFXIV Developer’s Blog states:
Fun fact: The area is named “The Eighteenth Floor” because that is the floor of the Square Enix office in Tokyo where the FFXIV development team works.
A Love Letter from the Developers
Once there at the Eighteenth Floor, players could freely explore the developer’s room and talk to each of the developers, who are represented by in-game avatars. The devs each introduce themselves, tell you a bit about what they do on the team, and sometimes include inside jokes that dedicated fans would understand best.
The Developer’s Blog also noted that the areas constructed within the Eighteenth Floor are meant to replicate the workspace of the devs IRL. There are jokes about the way devs look, act, and what you can commonly see on their work desks.
The one thing about this encounter is it’s on a very personal level. The dev-avatars introduce themselves, and always treat your character with great respect. They thank you for being a hero of Eorzea and honor you for standing by FFXIV, even when it had times of difficulty.
The Descent of Dalamud
It’s hard to believe that the FFXIV of today was once a struggling MMO that had to shut its servers to players in 1.0. During the anniversary event, the devs of the Eighteenth Floor don’t shy away from admitting the company’s missteps with the original game’s release.
I wasn’t a player back during 1.0, so I can’t comment on the state of the game back then. The only things I know about the original FFXIV release are what I’ve heard vets talk about, the few screen shots and maps that survived, and a couple videos that still exist. The most poignant and chilling of these was a player who actually captured the final minutes of the server before the moon Dalamud exploded into Bahaumt’s fiery wrath in the sky.
For those players, it really was the end of the world. They had no idea what was about to happen, but even in closing down the 1.0 servers, the FFXIV team put on an intense and emotional show. Fittingly, the cut scene that closed the servers on that fateful day became the opening movie when the servers reopened to new players as a Realm Reborn.
“But every end marks a new beginning…” the movie said. And they knew all along they weren’t going to give up the fight. Instead, the team rallied under Yoshi-P’s guidance to bring us the game we play today in one of the biggest and most unusual come-backs that an MMO has ever experienced.
That’s why the importance of the celebration of two successful years of FFXIV is not lost on the team. That’s why the developers bring their appreciation to the players on this occasion.
Secrets of the Eighteenth Floor
Aside from the devs in the secret area, there were other NPCs who wandered the halls. Though their conversations seemed trivial, from what I understand, what they said could hold a few secrets for the future development of the game.
I know it’s been confirmed that hints about what the next primal will be are in that room. I did hear a few NPCs discussing primals, including the suggestion of a clockwork doomtrain, which sounds awesome and should exist.
Other players have taken screenshots of NPCs discussing the possibility of new upcoming jobs for the game. While nothing can be confirmed, the community seems to believe that Red Mage and Samurai are being hinted at.
Of course, we always know these devs love to tease the players with secrets, and things rarely end up exactly what we expect. In fact, usually, things end up being much more amazing than we can imagine.
On A More Personal Note
This marks almost two continuous years of FFXIV for me, as well. I picked up the game a few weeks after A Realm Reborn was launched, mostly because I heard so many great things about it from the players. I was hesitantly curious about picking it up due to the fact I also knew that it wasn’t in such good shape in 1.0. I couldn’t deny, though, that the demand for the game was so high that they stopped selling the digital version online and you couldn’t get a box in the store!
I would have been playing it earlier if the digital sales weren’t at a halt. The very day I heard FFXIV was on sale again, I bought the digital download, and I’m still here today. Given my past with MMO-hopping, it’s really a tribute to FFXIV that I have remained subscribed to the game this long. I’ve had my lull times, of course, but I never regret the day that I decided to try out FFXIV.
So, very happy anniversary to Eorzea! Cheers to the players, the devs, and all the friends we’ve made along the way! May there be many more celebrations to come!
Related: Anniversary, Column, Eorzean Evening Post, Event (In Game), Final Fantasy XIV