Fan Site Business

Before FFXIV 1.0 launched, I worked on ffxivblog.com after I was invited by an awesome friend — Maiev. He wrote about it here, and I have always wanted to write an entry of my own regarding the matter. I have many mixed feelings about ffxivblog.com, but I will never forget how the experience has helped me tremendously with zantetsuken.net and Sequence Break XIV.

ffxivblog.com had started out fairly small and with several people invited to the project from Maiev. These people were FFXI bloggers and they were to become part of the FFXIV blogging community that brought some of us together in the first place. Or at least that is how I remembered it. Anyway, after I was brought on, I dragged my boyfriend with me and we started to make changes here and there. My first experience with podcasting also started with orzcast, the first and only (thus far) show with two primary female hosts. I talked about tits, love, and everything. It was probably because of this and the fact that there weren’t many other shows at the time (Aetheryte Radio and Crystal Core are the only two that pop into my mind pre-launch), that it brought a lot of hits and activity that quickly swung ffxivblog.com in a whole different direction. There was talk about ad-revenue, trying to get on SE’s good graces to be invited to stuff, people requesting for a forum, and more… and that is where the trouble started.

During beta there was already starting to be an obvious split. Some were starting to distance themselves away and write negatively about FFXIV. This didn’t sit well with some of us, nor did the NDA breaking articles that caused Matt to send me an e-mail to stop. Needless to say, I was shocked and horrified since I hadn’t written the article myself and I wasn’t the head honcho. This is probably where I started to get resentful. Not because of the e-mail, but because of the direction of the website. The uneven load of work that Orophen and I tried to fill, the feeling that the website was more to fill numbers for someone’s LS, and more. For a month or two, all I wanted to do was wash my hands of it. It was becoming too stressful and I didn’t like how I was as a person to some people that may not have deserved it. Frei and Orophen were in more frequent communication with me about the website, its direction, and our increasing unhappiness. This is very important to anyone considering a fan site: there is no damn point to it if it does not make you happy.

After extensive talks between the three of us, Orophen and I decided that it would be better to bail than to continue raising unnecessary stress levels. In the end, the three of us were collaborating together to work on a website we knew we would be happy with: something small, manageable, and without worry about publicity, hits, SEO, or anything of the sort. There were times Orophen would fret and worry about our traffic (and rightfully so after the large amount of hits we were used to seeing on ffxivblog.com), but in the end we found that it was too much stress to really care for making a concerted effort to increase our hit count. It took some time before we were able to start the podcast, but there was always one thing I always kept in mind after ffxivblog.com and orzcast: have fun. We don’t care for hits, we don’t care if people think our show isn’t “professional” enough, or whatever. Once you start worrying about those things more, working on a fansite no longer becomes fun- it becomes work. Though designing, maintaining and creating stuff is work in and of itself, it is a different sort of work that brings a great deal more satisfaction than anyone can imagine. It is a labor of love that I enjoy working on with Orophen, Frei, Rubicon, and Yelta and hope to enjoy in the years to come on FFXIV: ARR.

For those who were interested in writing for zantetsuken.net, I hope that you read this and take into consideration who and what we are about. Working with people can be hard, as we know when trying to find people to tackle primals and dungeons as a cohesive team. We aren’t interested in being a big website; we will leave that to the people with far more time, interest, and dedication than we can afford. We just want to be the best that we can be, in the way that we can be, and with people who collectively share our interest and aspirations.

A Million Titties

Boyfriend: You owe me a million dollars

Me: I’ll give you a million titties

Boyfriend: You don’t have a million titties!

Me: <_<; .... 😀 I have a million little titties all over my body! Boyfriend: NO YOU DON'T! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT!?! Me: 😀 😀 😀

Partnership Schm-artnership

Yesterday we (as-in: me), received an offer for a website partnership on zantetsuken.net. I instinctively knew what they were asking and wasn’t at all surprised when the response e-mail came in the next day after I had told them that I wasn’t interested but that Orophen had some piqued interest. I am going to be respectful of the other party and not include their name, website, or the original e-mails, but I think this something that should be on the mind of others who are considering “website partnerships” in the future.

The summary of the e-mail: their site, weeks active, hits and members accrued since their launch from continual postings on the Google+ Community, and what they had to offer in exchange for the partnership: hits, popularity, proud members of a team, free advertising, free hosting, an installed blogging platform, assumed assistance from a professional web developer, etc. Sounds cool, right? All in exchange for dropping Zantetsuken.net, having Sequence Break on their website, and my loyalty to the team.

Wait, what?

Now, I had no plans on saying yes. Orophen may have been interested, but the fellow was right in addressing me versus Orophen: I call the shots for the most part. Nothing goes on Zantetsuken.net without my express approval. If something doesn’t meet my approval and is on the website, then the natural consequence is that Orophen will hear of it and he WILL suffer. However, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because Orophen was slightly interested and some part of me wanted to believe that maybe the fellow had good intentions. Even now some part of me thinks maybe he had good but very misguided intentions. Nevertheless, there were so many problems that a swift response was in order and I declined the offer.

A partnership definition:

part·ner·ship

[pahrt-ner-ship] Show IPA

noun

1.the state or condition of being a partner; participation; association; joint interest.

2.Law.

a. the relation subsisting between partners.

b. the contract creating this relation.

c. an association of persons joined as partners in business.

The joint interest would be FFXIV, but that is where it ends. I am not interested in being popular, hits, or working with a team that may not be as interested or invested when the game is actually released. Five weeks is practically a new born versus Zantetsuken which has been around for over two years now. We aren’t a big site, we don’t claim to be a big site, nor do we have aspirations to become a big and popular website. My idea has always been simple: to contribute to the FFXIV community in our own way and on our terms. The podcast is done because I enjoyed doing orzcast for a brief period of time, and mostly enjoy the conversations I have with friends and sometimes meeting new people. I also like having an outlet that I can go to and where I can do what I want with no worry of this or that or what have you (hence the language you typically find on any given episode of Sequence Break). There is also the simple fact that we aren’t short of the resources they tried to promise us. Hosting? We have a lot of space and bandwidth to spare. Word-of-mouth? Happens quite often. If people like what you do, they will come. Why spam a place for attention, when the work can speak for itself? Hrm, and web dev stuff? Uh, we aren’t short of help on that end either thanks to Orophen, Frei, and friends we can ask tips from.

The partnership would have to offer an equal amount to what is being taken away. To be honest, there would be nothing offered that could give me the equivalent of freedom, being ad free, and the quality and control both Orophen and I desire. And to throw away a site that has put in two years of work to go into a fairly fresh and new website seems not just nuts but backwards and strange. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Not that we are interested. We are happy with where we are at. We may expand certain things, but for the most part we plan to do what we want, at our own pace, and enjoy the community experience without sacrificing who we are or forgetting why we walked this path.

If anyone where to consider proposing a partnership to us again (or anyone) in the future, I hope they take this into consideration:

1.) Do your homework. Why are you proposing a partnership? Is there something that can be gained mutually by the creation of a partnership between the two entities? Does it really make sense to propose a partnership with the other website?

2.) Make sure the offer is good for both parties. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person or ask a friend to read it over and consider the proposal. Does it seem fair? Then by all means, proceed. If it seems purely one-sided then you have a problem, and you can be sure the person will decline when they see that.

3.) Be sincere. You can pile on the compliments, but if it is insincere then the other party will easily sniff it out and be wary. Show them you did your homework, and give very specific examples as to why you are interested in creating a partnership. If you are vague and general as to why you want to create the partnership, the other party will think you are insincere and it will add to the belief that the drawbacks far outweigh any benefit you could think of.

4.) Most importantly: consider what YOUR website is about first. An established website is going to look at the newer website and will ask about their commitment, their intentions, and who or what they are doing it for. Is the website created for fun? For fame?

Final Fantasy XIV has seen a mass exodus of fansites come and go during 1.0, and I already see a second wave coming for ARR. I think it is great because it gives FFXIV: ARR another chance for gamers to meet others like themselves who missed the first wave or are there to test the waters before diving in. However, if you are a new fansite for xiv, give yourself a chance to establish yourself as a committed fansite host vs. an over eager one seeking to absorb established websites. People will gravitate towards your website not because you have x, y, or z content (though it helps), but because you stuck it out and decided to stay. And that says a lot given the nature of many fansites out there that come and go for any game out there.

Experimental Fresh Squeezed Juice

My home has had a juicer for a few months now, but no one was daring enough to try to use it. Go fig. I decided to use it the other night when I read about juicing strawberries for better health. Cut up some strawberries, tossed them in, took a sip and cringed. Okay, so now I remembered whey they often include other ingredients for other juices! It tastes awful straight up! So far I’ve tried strawberries + apple and strawberries + apple + pineapple. I’m going to dare myself to make a vegetable drink, but I usually think that sort of thing is gross and weird.

I’ll probably start taking pictures and documenting what I do just for the fun of it. :)

#@$% Comments

Lately I have considered stepping down from SBXIV; not because I don’t have the time, interest, or because of bad relations with the hosts. I make time for the things I love, I love XIV and podcasting, and I love the hosts enough to do a second show with them. What gets to me is that I know that the show is pretty much cool with a lot of people. People comment that they laugh on their way to work, they enjoy some of the hosts, and they even take a precious few minutes to give us a five star rating on iTunes and leave a written review. This is all good, right? But then we get the occasional comments outside of our site that I come across because I find the hits through our tracker or I stumble upon them through other means. The comments typically talk about the show in a positive light until it comes to something about “the girl that curses a lot”. Well, seeing as there are two girls and only one of them curses a storm at times…

I am not personally offended by the comments. No, what gets me is I wonder if the show would be better if I were out of the picture. I mention it before and I will say it again: I won’t change the aspect of myself when it comes to cursing or anything. If people wanted to listen to G or PG rated shows, there is a plethora of them (albeit currently is hiatus due to the current state of the game). I also won’t step down unless the show stops being fun. This is true. But that’s where I’m coming into conflict. I have made several changes to SBXIV because of those comments, gave up cursing during Lent last year to curb back my cursing (even I knew it was a bit much, and relied on it too much as an immature catharsis for release on pent up emotions), and have thoughtfully considered what to do to make SBXIV a better show than when it was during its GTD days.

The negative comments have usually (not always), helped in making the show better. When the comments begin to point to me being the problem? Well, now I have a problem. I have started to worry about what I say sometimes, think if I have to be more tame, and that’s not what I want to do. That’s not being very honest to myself, and it was never the type of show I wanted to run. So I end up wondering: do I dismiss the comments and continue on while thinking (sadly) to myself that I might be the reason the show isn’t better than what it could be? Or do I leave and at least have the peace of mind I did everything I could possibly do to make SBXIV a good show?

Three Reasons

A few minutes ago Orophen mentioned that we had received a new e-mail. Here are my two worries when we receive an e-mail: is it good or is it bad? Thankfully, it was neither! Instead it was a simple question; What are the top 3 reasons to jump into FFXIV: ARR?

However, the question suddenly becomes trickier when you are told:

1.) The person has played a number of MMO games and has recently retired from WoW

2.) They have played all the single player FF games, but not any of the MMO versions

I can think of reasons why someone who fits into those categories might not find FF enjoyable, but rarely have I tried to think of why they would want to get their feet wet with this game. There is also the problem with the fact that the game has not yet been released. Most of my information and reasoning will be based upon with what I think might still be the same from 1.0 going into 2.0 and what I do know from official sources of information.

1.) You will have multiple options of content and leveling. Final Fantasy XI and version 1.0 of XIV did not have PvP in the same sense that WoW, GW, and other games have PvP. This will be different in ARR, but to what extent? I don’t know. We know there will be quest hubs like there are in many MMOs, but there will also still be the ability to use the leve quest system, grind in dungeons,  and FATE (XIV’s response to Guild Wars 2’s events) for leveling purposes. Currently known end game content will extend to primal battles, Crystal Tower, and raids. You will also have the chance to create your own “guild” which in XIV’s terms is a Free Company. A Free Company allows you to focus on getting a house and (if they keep the ideas from 1.0 during Tanaka’s reign) maybe build a ferry or an airship.

I see this more akin to being able to do be in control of your own character in a beloved FF game, and with the type of quality we hope to expect from a FF game. You are now your own version of a main FF character with your own ragtag group members, fighting Primals/Eidolons/Summons, getting fame, creating an airship, and more! Which will bring me to point #2.

2.) Version 1.0 bombed hard. Wada said that the game “greatly damaged the FF brand”. Those are very harsh words from the CEO himself! So why bring this up? Because Yoshida and Wada are committed to helping make FFXIV a good game. Not just for the sake of profit, but for redemption. Will Yoshida exceed? It is too early to tell, to be honest. We don’t know what beta looks like, we can’t talk about what we saw in Alpha, and there just isn’t enough out there to say wtf ARR is going to look like.

HOWEVER, as a player who played through 1.0’s Beta, played from release until December, and then came back when Yoshida started making sweeping changes to XIV, I can tell you that the game was already markedly different since Yoshida took the helm. There were still problems that he couldn’t fix, but not because he didn’t want to fix them! He was unable to fix them, because the problems were so bad that it required him to tear the game apart to look at doing an extensive remodel.

Some companies would have cut their losses and try to save face. SE decided to admit they were wrong and tried to make amends. But then you might ask, “So? What does this have to do with my trying out XIV: ARR?” Because SE wants to try to make their customers happy. Will everyone be happy? Goodness no! Will FF players be happy? We hope so! There will be quite a number of previous FF elements in the game, and some have already taken place! How? Well, how about we start with the Red Moon from Final Fantasy IV:

Crystal Tower from III will make an appearance, Magitek from IV is already there, Golden Saucer from VII might appear, and did I forget to mention Materia? We won’t just be playing another numbered Final Fantasy game made into an MMO, but one that takes pieces from other titles and pays homage to them. Personally, I think this is cool if you are an FF fan and I’m looking forward to being able to muck around in a world with elements from those previous games. Now if Triple Triad or Tetra Master made an appearance in XIV? I would probably say goodbye to any other game and sell my soul to XIV.

3.) You just need one character to experience it all. This is my biggest problem with other MMOs: having to create alt characters in order to play as other classes. If I want to switch classes, I have to switch characters, and sometimes equipment I could use on another character is immediately bound to the other character and it’s a mess! You don’t have to deal with that in XIV. You have one character and it can do it all. Want to play as a Warrior? Go ahead! Change your weapon and you are done! But what if you are needed as a White Mage healer? Change your weapon! A Black Mage? Change your weapon! No need to go through the arduous task of having to level up three different characters and go through the same quests over and over again. Instead you can pick up a different quest hub, do leves, or exp raid dungeons to grind yourself up. And if you have friends, a Free Company, or a linkshell? You can probably build better relationships with them since you are ONE person they can keep track of versus your numerous personas.

There are other reasons I can think of: for the most part, the FF community is pretty good. There are questionable people on the forums, but overall I’d say that the FF community is pretty darn nice. A lot of us also really love our community management team, the devs, SOKEN, and especially Yoshida because they come off far more open and warm than before. The world is gorgeous. Other MMOs have wonderful looking worlds, but I have never felt quite as at home as I have in Eorzea. Possibly a bias, but I can’t help I like pretty things! The character models are also not weirdly “Americanized” for the audience. I had a huge problem with this in regards to Aion when faces were changed to better fit the Western market, which I thought made them appear uglier than they were. I’m also not very keen on the Western visual aesthetics, but this is rather minor and personal for each user.

And, yeah, I can go on, but I think I will stop here for now. ;3

Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet

Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

Three teachers have always stuck out in my head as making big impacts on who I am today: my first grade teacher, my ninth grade English teacher, and my CHEM professor from college.

My first grade teacher was an older Filipina lady who was the aunt of a classmate I had in middle school. I remember telling her of how much of a bitch her aunt was, and I remember the look of confusion on her face. But I can’t seem to forget the shit that woman put me through… During this time, I felt consistently humiliated by this fucking bitch. From being spanked, made fun of for my dress in front of class, having my hand slapped, yelled at, and yanked up by my arm for doing what I was told. Her actions have had a lasting effect on me that at least helped me be a little bit more compassionate to my students. I know what its like to feel humiliated and treated badly by an adult that you feel should be on your side, and I would hate for another student to feel that way because of me. I may have failed at times, but I do try to prevent such occurrences from happening.

Funny thing is, middle school was hardly as bad for me as elementary school was. Elementary school was a nightmare because of my teachers and my classmates making my life hell. I often went home crying or wishing I were dead. I did go through bouts of trouble during my freshman year, but one teacher has always stood out to me despite the pains I felt then. She was always very warm and compassionate to everyone, and it often drove people crazy because she was rather kind to me.

Her kindness and support had gone a long way, and I never forgotten her warm smile or her truly compassionate nature. Her lessons on writing and her encouragement also stuck with me, and I often think of them when I find myself with a pen and paper in hand or when I pass by my old middle school. I remember wanting to be a teacher just like her, because what she had done for me was so remarkable even though it wasn’t anything spectacular. But as a student who had low self esteem, struggled with finding a place in a different education system, and who was always ignored by almost everyone? Her small praises and words of encouragement were very uplifting and has still made a huge impact on me to this day.

Finally, my Chemistry professor from last year. I took Chemistry briefly in high school but dropped out because of poor study habits and low self esteem. I honestly thought i was stupid and incapable, but I found that I actually REALLY like Chemistry! What struck me most about this professor, however, was how humble and generous she is to everyone. She has a lot of dry and geeky humor, but she’s very humble and truly invested in seeing her students succeed. She has a lot of compassion and a belief in God that struck me as surprising, since I had pegged her as someone who doesn’t believe in such things. Yet she draws strength from her faith and uses it as a basis of how she treats her peers, students, and family. Not to mention she does COOL experiments for her children that she sometimes does for us! Hah! Makes me wish my mom were that cool when I was a child!

A Jumble of Thoughts on Podcasting

It is hard to believe that over a year has passed since Orophen, Frei, Rubicon, and I started our podcast back in August 2011. We’ve come a long way with various guests and adding Yelta as a fifth host when Rubicon had taken a break due to SW:TOR, but it’s sort of amazing that we have come this far at all when I thought we would have given up before we hit the year benchmark.

I know that if there are any complaints about our show, it is often that we aren’t “professional”, we curse, and that we nerd out often. Which is fine by me, because I think it’s cool that other podcasts can fill in others expectations for a show that those listeners are interested in. I’m not really interested in being #1 or #2, but at least updated, informed, and entertaining. Having a high ranking is just icing on a cake, because it’s a HUGE compliment to something that most of us find to be a hobby.

Which is why I don’t mind those complaints: they are true and are valid and I’m not particularly interested in changing those aspects. I’ve threatened to leave the show if this was changed and I stand pretty firm on this. I have no qualms dropping things I dislike; I’ve done it before and will do it again if I find it conflicts with my sense of well-being or fun. If anything, I’d probably just start from scratch and be on my merry way. If not? Meh. I have other things to do that don’t have to include podcasting.

At the moment we are currently looking at starting up our “main” show. It is sort of strange to think that the main show won’t be Sequence Break XIV, but I guess it’s the only way to look at it due to the name of the show (which will be JUST Sequence Break) and its proposed content.

The new show honestly has me kind of feeling anxious and nervous. I was nervous starting up Go Team Derp! (Our name before we switched to Sequence Break XIV), as it is sort of challenging setting up something for the first time. But aside from trial run anxieties, I have been in a different sort of headspace that has left me questioning myself more. Am I going to do a good job? Will this podcast be a success? Does it matter if it is? What is a success? Will it intervene with producing episodes on SBXIV in the future? Sometimes the thoughts alone and the other issues I often have, make me think of Linkin Park’s “Runaway” and how I actually want to run off into the horizon.

Then I remember who I’m doing this for—it’s not for the listeners or our fans. It’s for us. We enjoy just sitting, talking, and sometimes arguing and doing it on a regular basis. Most of the time we look forward to recording and publishing our episodes, because we just like having fun and sharing that fun with others. When the day comes that this is truly no longer any fun, I think I’ll step down. Do what? Who knows. Maybe bake cookies?

That’s not to say we don’t care what people think. I love getting e-mails and reviews from listeners who say they keep up to date because of our show, or are just entertained when they have a rough day at work and want to laugh. We’ve changed certain things in the show because of those comments (both positive and negative), but we’ve always made changes that we were ok with first and foremost. We are still weird and quirky, but that’s ok. I love our podcast, and I love the people I met because of it… even if some of them have wanted me to ram my head into a brick wall. I’m looking forward to another year, for sure…