A Reintroduction

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Fybrile, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. Fybrile

    Fybrile Administrator

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    Well, hello there!

    My name is Fybrile, and I'm the admin here at FFXIVRealm.com!

    I figured anyone who joined us here recently might not know me, or - judging from my lack of posts - think I'm inactive, so I guess it's past time to reintroduce myself and wax a little nostalgic for a moment. You see, after being dragged away from the game by FFXV and Fallout 4 and just a whole lot of really great games over the past two years (and, admittedly, being a tad salty over the direction they took Bard, dailies, endgame and just my total lack of success buying a house) I've just recently realized my heart is still very much in this game, and I was just waiting until the time was right to start the love affair all over again.

    I will say that during the past two years, I've been on this site daily, watching its ups and downs, quietly fixing things when they broke, and trying to stay up-to-date about the game and this community. I just haven't been posting much since, not actively playing, I didn't have much to contribute.

    Anyways, the reintroduction...

    You can find my original self-introduction here if you're interested: http://www.ffxivrealm.com/threads/one-of-the-ffxivcore-displaced.944/

    If you didn't play FFXIV version 1.0, you might not know of a little site called FFXIVCore.com, which I posted in and trolled daily leading up to the release of the original FFXIV. Man, was I excited for this game. To the point where I had an Excel spreadsheet calculating which class and race I would be ultimately happiest with, long before any information had actually been released about the details of each class and race. I'll skip over my experience playing 1.0 (as, I could go on and on about it, since I was genuinely one of the few who enjoyed it, and to this day remember every single detail about the day the servers went offline), and come straight to my first contact with this site.

    Unfortunately, FFXIVCore, although it had an active community, was canned by Curse (the company that owned the domain) shortly after the 1.0 servers went offline. I remember there wasn't much time between the announcement and when the site would be shut down. Maybe a week. This was, paradoxically, right in the lead-up to the re-release of FFXIV as A Realm Reborn, and myself and many from the Core were desperately waiting to hear what their admin planned to do to keep the community together. Unfortunately, nothing ultimately came until after the site went down. In the interim, and old moderator from a fledgling fansite called FFXIVRealm dropped into Core in the last few days and introduced us to this site. I jumped over immediately, and was pretty impressed by what I saw of this small community of FFXIV fans.

    You can still find the old theme for this site in the footer. Just click on the button that says FFXIVRealm 2.1 (Beta) and choose Realm Legacy. I can't guarantee that everything still fits and works, as it's unsupported, but I think it's neat that it's still around for those of us who were around those early days.

    (To be continued)
     

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  2. Fybrile

    Fybrile Administrator

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    In those early days leading up to the release of FFXIV:ARR, the admin of this site was an awesome guy named Vamped. The mod who introduced Core to the Realm was a guy named Danforth Wright and another mod from way back then is still with us and active to this day, JMATAWWCL. They did a really amazing job of creating a community that grew from a few hundred members to 18,000 in the period of a few months - but more importantly, that created a place where people enjoyed talking with each other - about FFXIV of course, but also about anything else. In those days, there were perhaps our most colorful characters, like Joygasm constantly flirting with being banned for being, let's say, pungent, to Oblit, whose artwork would leave you speechless (he'd even win an art competition run by SE), to Dragon who I don't think even liked the game, but kept our Off Topic forums active with political threads, to Purelysavage bringing the reality TV-type drama, to Legwen, to this day our most Ignored member and whom many of us were pretty sure was just Joygasm, and on, and on, and on.

    If you haven't heard any of our old podcasts, you might not know that I'm pretty opinionated. I love jumping right into a good discussion with anyone about anything. I might take the word count way too high - as you can now tell - but it's just because I love good, old-fashioned discussion. Which is what I did as soon as I came here, day-in and day-out, from the moment I woke till the time I went to sleep I was logged-in. Pretty soon, I had accumulated so many posts that, when Danforth Wright decided to step back from being a mod on this site (I never got the story about that, I think it had something to do with insults he had received over a podcast he'd done, which just flabbergasted me because I personally thought he was the best), I was asked if I'd be interested in being a mod for the site. Originally, I was a bit apprehensive - it'd be difficult for me to continue to troll the community as a moderator. But, at the end of the day, those moderator banners were just way too sexy back then, and I was way too in love with this community, to say no.

    Then, FFXIV:ARR was released, and we were all in the golden days of the website. Traffic soared to unmanageable levels - due in large part to the infamous Error 3102. During those early days, we got our fourth, and to this day by far our most popular moderator, Najla. We were also the largest and most active FFXIV fansite. I believe we are the oldest FFXIV fansite that's still active. And given the ups and downs in the game, and the ups and downs in the community, I think is a huge accomplishment for everyone. Even though you might not see us as much as before, we're still here, lurking the forums, ready and hoping for that magic spark that will bring us back.

    During those days, we also started a podcast. It was originally hosted by a group of guys I think had done a podcast before, but rebranded to network with our site. It was called RealmTalk. I highly recommend checking out their episodes in our Podcasts section. They were pretty good. They also gave me my first taste podcasting - which I remember doing at work one day because I was worried my old laptop wouldn't work well enough. Unfortunately, when the game released, they weren't that into it and the podcast ended abruptly.

    After the honeymoon period (3-4 months) was over, and people started moving on from the game, the Realm stabilized at around 2k active users a month, which was very high for a fansite like ours. Unfortunately, Vamped's real life started taking him away from the site, and one day, in a PM that still makes me sad to read, he let me know that he'd be stepping down and handing off the website to someone else. Since I'd been dabbling in website design at my job, I said yes when he asked me if I'd take over the backend administrator stuff, but, to this day, I still wish he was around.

    (Still to be continued)
     

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  3. Fybrile

    Fybrile Administrator

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    The honeymoon lasted for me and for this site all the way through FFXIV:ARR and a few months into HW. Our community was active, we'd rebooted a podcast with Majaa, Sword, Kolossus and towards the end, Joshua David and Jinzuku (I even got the chance to host an episode with my personal FFXIV hero, an old host of a little-known pre-1.0 FFXIV podcast called "Crystal Core", which I really geeked out about... sadly, I don't think he liked me very much... as I said, I can be opinionated, even - apparently - when talking to people I idolize). Things were going well. This was the period during which our community team became what it is today, with the addition of GeekMatt and Jinzuku and Majaa, and when the look of the Realm changed, and changed again, and finally one last time to be what you are looking at right now.

    The original cast of cartoonish characters who were constantly at odds with each other that made up the Realm's pre-launch community eventually faded away, and were replaced with a new community that - from my perspective on the outside now looking in - really seemed to just enjoy each other. Where the first community trolled each other for the lulz, the post-launch community were all fans, were all of the same mindset, and just enjoyed each other's company. Much of the community played on Brynhildr, and during those days, there was a real push to make the server the "official" server of the Realm - which I was deadset against. Vamped and I had talked about doing something like that long before, and he had explained to me in a way that stuck why it would be a bad idea. Today, I still think it was the right call, but a big part of me has always wished there was a Realm community in-game too that we could all have been a part of.

    The honeymoon lasted until 2 months after the release of Heavensward. 6 months after Heavensward, things were really starting to get quiet. If I remember correctly, Heavensward released in June (?). After an initial surge to 6k active members in June, back to our usual 2k active members by September, by January the following year, activity was dropping month-over-month, and some of our most popular members just weren't posting anymore.

    We'll call those days the dark days of the Realm, and looking back, perhaps I was the cause...

    I said I was going to wax nostalgic, and, since there's not much else going on here these days, I will!

    (To be continued yet again!)

    :haha:
     

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  4. Fybrile

    Fybrile Administrator

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    The story of the decline in activity at the Realm coincided with my own declining interest in the game. Two wholly separate events that just happened to occur at the same time. A coincidence. I think there was something about Heavensward that turned a lot of people off initially. I genuinely don't know what it was, it was a great first expansion. Flying mounts. Dragons. Good story. If I had to guess, I'd say it wasn't one particular thing. I'd say it was a hundred small things that really pissed off a hundred different types of players who all had a hundred different reasons for playing the game. Hardcore PvPers were complaining. Endgame raiders were complaining. Story-focused players were complaining. All about little things, really. I don't think anything was grossly wrong with the game. What was wrong with Heavensward for a lot of players was like death by a thousand cuts. When all added up, they started to weigh-down the experience.

    And, I made my particular complaints widely-known in the final days of the podcast.

    1. hated the changes to BRD, which might have been objectively fine, but subjectively, completely f*cked-up my ability to play the class well with my issues with latency.
    2. the fact I couldn't buy my own house really, really bothered me. it would probably have been my stated main reason for stepping back, but subconsciously, i think it was...
    3. all the themepark timers and various grinds (once again, when added up) was turning it from a rewarding experience into a second job.

    So, as I said, I'd long craved playing with people from the Realm. During these days, this was an even stronger desire as I was desperately seeking a group of people that could keep me engaged in the endless grinding and not so focused upon the lack of house. I couldn't just jump into Brynhildr, because that'd pretty much contradict my stance against naming a server as the "official" server of the Realm (many of our other community staff were already there). My podcast crew were, each of us, on different servers, and (again, because of the shitty way SE has implemented houses) no one wanted to transfer. And then, one happy day, Najla, Oblit, JMAT and I decided to meet up on a server. JMAT and I rerolled characters (I would eventually transfer my main character over to the new server a few weeks later), and it was going real well. They even took me on some Coil of Bahamut content (obviously, this is before HW) with a LS they'd formed. My lag became a liability, but I was so happy for the brief experience at doing the content I'd wanted to do forever.

    And then, one day, for a reason I truly cannot remember, I quit the FC. Literally, everything I'd ever wanted, I just up and left. I don't know why. I didn't go anywhere else, I just transferred to a Japanese server one day without saying a word. I was really unhappy with the game, with my latency, with my main character which I'd wanted to reroll for months but could never really tear myself away from for long because of the endless I'd hours sunk into it. How do you just drop a character you got a zodiac weapon on!?!? I was a shitty person and I did a shitty thing and just up and left my friends without saying anything. It's, by far, my biggest regret. I think I was frustrated with just about everything, and I think that negativity made me imagine no one would care if I just bounced. I'm fairly certain I didn't think it would be a big deal if I just disappeared. So, one day, in a shitty frame of mind, I just did.

    But, it was a big deal. And, it was a shitty thing to do. And, for the life of me, I can't remember why in the world I did.

    This is exactly why Vamped told me not to declare an official server for the Realm. You can't separate the drama that happens in game from consequences here. The consequences of my actions still bother me to this day.

    When, shortly after, FFXIV and the Realm started to enter its dark days in January the next year, we fought hard to keep the community active. We created roles, added new sections to the site, even had cash-prizes to incentivize activity. It was during this time when there was one, shining star that lighted up the Realm - that was Caimie Tsukino. It wasn't just her incredibly detailed guides and dedication to this game that inspired you, it was literally everything about her. She's the type that makes you feel more positive just talking to. Her positivity is infectious, and a perfect counterbalance to my infectious negativity.

    But, we were swimming up stream. Pretty soon, it was getting clear that most of the activity was from the community team rather than the community. That was about a year and a half ago, I think. About half-way through Heavensward. But, you can't swim upstream forever. You can't force a community to be engaged. I thought about a lot of different options. Hand-over the reigns? More competitions? Network with other sites? I asked my team time and time again for their ideas and we implemented every single one of them. Each of them worked incredibly hard to engage the community. But, month over month, the numbers still dropped.

    Until, at last, it came time to stop fighting the current, and see where it would take us.

    (to be continued one, final time)
     

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  5. Fybrile

    Fybrile Administrator

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    From January to March 2016, as we reduced our push for activity on the site, we dropped from 2k active users per month, to 1k. And, we kept dropping month-over-month throughout the lifecycle of Heavensward to finally stabilized at 500-600 active users a month at the end of 2017. When Stormblood began to ramp-up, we didn't see much hype on the site. Although, we did climb to 700 active users per month, most of them lurked rather than posted, and so other metrics of activity, such as posts per month, didn't grow.

    When Stormblood released and we didn't see a noticeable difference in activity, I honestly braced for the worst.

    But, actually, an incredible thing happened. Our numbers stabilized. Month-over-month, we've remained at 700 active users since the release of the third expansion. We reached the end of the river, we can finally stop swimming against the current or letting it take us downriver. This is what the Realm community is now. 700 users who drop by every month to see what's going on. And even though there has been next-to-nothing going on, they're still coming back. They're still here.

    I think that's amazing. 700 active users is far more than most other fansites.

    And, on a personal note, after a year and a half, I'm finally able to let go of my main character and start playing the game again. I'm enjoying it immensely, and can't wait to see what I've been missing in Stormblood.

    So, to you 700 active users, hello! I hope I get to know you. I'm not going to ask you to post, or say 'hi!', or be more active. I'm just going to say, from the bottom of my heart...

    Thank-you, Realmers!~

    I'm looking forward to chatting with you!

    See you in Eorzea!

    :hero:
     

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  6. Jinzuku

    Jinzuku Vice Administrator

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    That was honestly so great to read. I can't thank you enough for all the hard work you've put into the site @Fybrile. I stick by the Realm and the great community that makes it what it is. It's gone through so many changes but it's looking the best it ever has. I too hope long for the days the activity is what it used to be and I still hold out hope that it will.
     

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  7. GeekMatt

    GeekMatt Moderator

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    Good to see your interests rekindled, Fybrile :good:
     

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