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Thursday, April 28, 2005
Final Fantasy fans in Hawaii
Final Fantasy XI"iGames Tour 2005"
When: 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: PC Gamerz, Pearl Kai Shopping Center, Suite D-2
Admission: Free; print a ticket from the iGames tour site, na.square-enix. com/events/ffxi/ tour2005
Parking: Will be tight due to another event in the center. Consider carpooling or the bus. Extra parking will be available behind McDonald's.
Events2 p.m.: Registration and sign-ups
2 to 6 p.m.: Boss Battle Bash, held in 30-minute blocks. Contestants have five minutes to set up macros and 15 minutes to beat the boss. Equipment and items to be used will be a surprise.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Panel session with development team
8 to 9 p.m.: Tarutaru Cure Marathon. Fifty white mage tarutaru (tiny pointy-eared creatures of FFXI's healer class) will run an obstacle course.
9 to 10 p.m.: Costume contest and raffle prizes
All day: Have pictures taken with Mithra (cat girls) and placed in an FFXI frame; free
For those who don't know, FFXI was released in the United States on Oct. 28, 2003, for Windows PCs and March 23, 2004, for the Sony PlayStation 2, as video-game publisher Square Enix's massive online multiplayer role-playing game. It allows about half a million registered players in Japan, North America and Europe to connect on 33 different servers and interact.
Hawaii, with about 3,000 players, will be the second stop in Square's iGames 2005 Final Fantasy XI World Tour on Saturday. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a major video-game publisher will host such an event here honoring its fans.
The first stop, in Gardena, Calif., drew about 400 participants. Starting from 2 p.m. Saturday, Square Enix expects 300 to 500 FFXI players to descend on PC Gamerz in the Pearl Kai Shopping Center in Aiea. At least 25 are expected to show up in character costume for the free event.
PC GAMERZ co-owner Jeri Lynn Endo cheerfully answered questions about this weekend's iGames party.
Q: How did PC Gamerz get involved in hosting this event?
A: We received an initial call from the FFXI community relations manager, who said he found PC Gamerz on the iGames Web site. They were able to get a feel of our center through our photos on our iGames page, as well as the link to our Web site. He said Square Enix USA wanted to have a Final Fantasy XI event in Hawaii, and asked for some details regarding size, location and specs. They were thinking about doing a video feed to Japan, so they were looking for a high-speed connection. We have a T-1 line, so that was a plus.
Several months went by, and then we were contacted again and continued our communication through e-mails to get a better idea of what they wanted to do here.
A: We have hosted private parties, our own LAN (local area network) tournaments and several iGames tournaments and events, but nothing of this magnitude.
Q: What sort of special arrangements have you made to prepare?
A: This event is primarily happening outdoors, about 200 feet from our storefront. We're working with our property managers and neighbor businesses to provide facilities, resources and access to the area we are having tented. One of our customers owns an event staging company, LA Image, and is coordinating everything under the tents, including setup and takedown of tents, stage, lights and sound equipment. CompUSA and other vendors are helping with the equipment, connections and cabling to put eight additional PCs and big-screen monitors under those tents.
Our business neighbor next door is catering, and a customer's father is providing delivery of bottled water. ... It's a real community event with a lot of people helping to pull it all together.
Q: Why was Hawaii picked as a stop for this tour?
A: Honolulu is one of the top cities among the Final Fantasy XI population, and we have a high percentage of players from Hawaii. Also, I was part of the development team for Final Fantasy IX at the Square USA Honolulu studio, and I know how enthusiastic Hawaiian gamers are.
Q: How long will the iGames tour last, and what other stops are planned and when?
A: Future locations have not been determined.
Q: I understand there will be a Q-and-A session with the development team.
A: The event will include a Q-and-A panel with the following: Sage Sundi, global online producer; (myself); and Community & Service division members from Square-Enix. The event will also include a live videoconference during the panel to interview Hiromichi Tanaka, the FFXI producer, as well as a few other people from the development team. We will have interpreters ready on both the Japan side as well as at PC Gamerz Hawaii.
A: We are introducing a game event called the Boss Battle Bash in which a group of (six) players get together to challenge well-known tough bosses in FFXI. This is also the first time ever to have our development team available via videoconference for the FFXI community.
Lastly, we are selling eight different kinds of Final Fantasy XI T-shirts at PC Gamerz Hawaii during the event. These T-shirts will be available for the first time at the Hawaii event.
(The designs feature four national shields of Windurst, Bastok, Sand'Oria and Jeuno. There will also be one each of the Elvaan, Hume, Tarutaru and Galka races. Sorry, no Mithra cat girls.)
Q: What does Square-Enix hope to achieve with this tour?
A: Our goal is to have our players feel closer to Square-Eni, as well as their fellow players through this event. Most of all, we would like our fans to have the best time possible.
OK, enough talk. It's time for me to log back into the game and sing to my virtual plants. See you at Saturday's party.