Hello, it’s the guy behind Ralan here.
In the best display of editing I’m making a note right at the beginning.
I have to tell you that elements of what will follow are pulled from another piece I’ve written but not released yet. Seeing everyone in that Facebook group over the last few days has driven me to want to write something for the here and now. That other piece I’m pulling from is one I’m saving for the last days of FFXI. Which when I say it like that feels like the end of the world, and with how I feel about FFXI, it kind of is.
Some of the servers are gone, with SE having players merge to other servers like refugees. I know that each world looks exactly the same, but I can’t imagine that sense of displacement I’m sure some people had. As of this moment you can see half the servers remain. Thankfully my home Bismarck still stands strong.
Consoles can never log in again. I’ve always played it on the PC but I know quite a few people who played console only. Tangent things (to me) like achievements on the xbox can no longer be obtained. Did anyone else happen to get them all? The leveling got easier near the end which would have helped, as every job up to and including DNC and SCH had an achievement for getting to level 75. I paid DKP to get a Dynamis-Tavnazia clear. I helped clear up the misconception that making a relic weapon was an achievement. (Also, why did they make all of them hidden? Seriously an uncool move on Square Enix’s part.)
Back to the beginning.
The original reason I wanted to write something was very simple. I love this game. Enough that whenever I would see a news update on a video game websites I would take issue with the standard slack-jawed comments, “This game is still around?” “Time to put it out of it’s misery.” These comments I have found have always come from people who have never played it. It makes sense then, that this game means nothing to them. I’ve also seen the exact same people complain about multiplayer in Assassin Creed games, but that’s a story for another day.
They can’t see that, even if you’re more into roleplaying (I’m looking at you Nightsintodream!) or endgame stuff (hello Lunarians past and present) it’s about the friendships you make. Let me tell you one of my experiences with this, if you’ll indulge me please.
I still remember June 4th 2004. I was invited to a party on my RNG in Qufim, back when every little corner had a party in it trying to avoid night-time aggro. I was doing my pull and damage thing, not really talking to anyone in party cause I didn’t want to make a mistake. We are camped just south of the tower and “it” happens, a skeleton pops way too close. It takes a few seconds and then finally aggros. At that point I was more mad that I could have waited on my pull like 15 seconds and we could have handled it. Too late now. So I disengage the crab, run towards Qufim Tower a few feet and then shoot the skeleton so it follows. Followed by a shadowbind halfway to the tower. I’m sure some of you remember my shadowbind macro,
“(Shadowbind) <t> DO NOT TOUCH! <call13>”
DONG! (You were thinking it) And I zone it. Typical shit, we’ve all done it at some point. But the reason I’m telling everyone this is because of the reaction when I came back out. In one moment a lot of doors opened up to me. One dude in party was named Kingpopof, his character applauding me while he said that it was a welcome thing to have someone paying that much attention in that kind of situation. He gave me a linkpearl to his Renkeidorkz shell, where I eventually met other friends; Osric, Radec, Dreamingfaith, and many more that I kept for years. We did all of Nyzul Isle together every Saturday, CoP story, ToAU story, WotG story. I couldn’t have asked for better friends to do any and all of that with. Waking up Saturday’s anticipating the Nyzul runs was like Saturday Morning Cartoons for me again.
I learned that pull run RNG stuff back then from another friend of mine that I met in game, a dude named Zeak (that I haven’t heard from in almost a decade it feels like now. I’d love to hear from him.) Zeak, Serdapi, and I use to spend time in party just talking and laughing while watching for goblin aggro on parties just outside Kahzam. I wonder if anyone reading this remembers that?
But I made one more friend back then, some goofy mage-4-lyfe disguised that day as a DRG called Selfie. The original Selfie before that word was stolen for photography. That same shadowbind started a friendship that given time turned into something else, and then something else again. And today I’ve been married to the girl behind the character for the last 10 years of my life. It’s amazing how many things had to be for that to occur. What if I never looked for party that day? Let’s think of this another way too:
My kids only exist because of this game.
Think about that for a minute, I know I’m not alone in this boat. The steps you take in your life lead you places you’d never see.
Think I’ll make this the TL;DR: MLG gaming skillz impresses and gets girl. Haha, anyways…
This game was the beginning of an era, friends you make only through online. That’s why even now it’s such a feels trip, there are a lot of people I’ve seen in the last few days. It’s like meeting them again for the first time because of the Facebook group. Social Media was in its infancy back then, so people really were their character. And how do you even explain this to anyone? Like those people I mentioned earlier, wondering “why it’s still around.” The only reason I can explain it to any of you and have it make any sense is because you all have experienced this yourself in your own way.
Nothing lasts forever.
I saw a poll on the Facebook group, where it asked everyone about how they feel and if they’d play again. The overwhelming majority chose, “I love this game dearly, but there’s no way I’m coming back.” It makes sense but the meaning behind it is sad. I put over 1300 days of /playtime into the game myself. I got every job to at least 75. I got a craft to 100. I beat every single story line (at the time, this was before Adoulin.) I camped lots of nm’s, big and small. Raised a chocobo. There are so many things in game it could take a while just to list it all.
The rush I felt from beating the last mission in a storyline, wanting to know what is going to happen to the half-elf after years of waiting. The satisfaction of helping a friend get their first piece of AF armor. The thanks I’d get for taking so much of my time to go take a million pictures with a silly camera so we could spawn some NMs for the Linkshell. The irritation of camping Mee Deggi the Dickfaced (I think that was his name) for the 20th time with nothing to show for it but those goddamn knuckles.
As I’m writing this right now I want nothing more than to play again, and dedicate the time I want to it, with everyone again like I could wake from a dream where no time has passed. But I can’t, the same family and kids I have now because of this game takes the time I could once give it.
I don’t even think melancholy describes how I feel. How can I feel so sad and angry, and yet happy about a game at the same time? The very fact that the experiences I’ve had in this game with other people and the game itself can make me feel like this right now is indescribable to me. I’ve waited almost 24 hours to post this and I still haven’t found an adequate way spell it out.
It gets worse?
And then there’s the people who’ve died. I don’t know if you saw that post but there’s almost a half dozen people on that list I either talked to or at least knew from LS co-op stuff. What a sobering slap this is. One of those people in particular hurts because I once told them what I really thought of them. I didn’t hate them, but they were not my friend. I didn’t want to deal with their perceived “bullshit” basically. I’m sorry they are gone. I’m sorry they all are gone. I’m so glad that they all have had someone out there who has remembered them for this long.
All I know is if anyone ever tries to tell you “it’s just a game,” they really have no idea what they are talking about.
How it was? Or how it is.
So how to wrap up what I’m saying? For my original piece it was going to be a fond farewell to a game that gave me so much, and the friends who were always there. I told myself that I’d make a private server if the game was closing, as a way to hold on to a memory in a physical manner. That way how can I forget it if I can physically see it whenever I want to?
I might still, but I feel that in doing so I’d ruin what I do remember of it. Walk into a lower Jueno and not have it take 30 seconds to load all the bazaars and people at the auction house? To have the summer festival outside town and there be no one around for it? Nothing would be remaining except for the echoes of a time past. Is that how I would want to re-remember it? It would overwrite what I think of it now and I don’t know if I want that erased. Scratch that, that sounds kind of terrifying. I don’t want it erased. Who would?
That was the basis of the original ending, some small worries about things finally coming to a certain unavoidable finality. But I think I don’t have to worry about these things anymore. I don’t feel forced; to have to say goodbye to what and who was basically part of me, of who I am.
Because I have now been given a gift, the most important part of that game to me.
I meant it when I said it was good to see you.