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FFXIV FanFest | 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went

Final Fantasy XIV Fanfest has come and gone. Here is a detailed list of 10 things I wish I knew before I went to this year’s show.

It’s all in one room

The fact Fanfest is in one giant convention hall is bittersweet. On the positive side, it’s incredibly easy to meet up with friends and regroup. Everything is clearly labeled, so when you call your friends to tell them “I’m over by the stage,” or “I’m to the right of the chairs,” there’s only one place you can really be.

On the contrary, it can make walking around very difficult, and getting anything done incredibly difficult. Because there are limited activities, there’s not a ton of places for you to go, and that leads to the second issue: the lines.

Lines are bad, like really bad

I have been to New York Comic Con, E3, PAX East and West, SXSW – you name it, I’ve most likely been to it. So before you say, “oh but NYCC is where the bad lines really are,” trust me, this small event will surprise you with it’s never-ending queues. Because you only have three computer activities and three mini-games, there isn’t a way for attendees who are participating in said activities to spread out. If you’re cosplaying, fit your footwear for extra comfort. If you’re not, don’t be bold with your choice of shoes – I cannot tell you how many people I saw and heard about getting foot injuries from standing in lines.

If you want merchandise, go early and camp the line

Like I said, I’ve been to most conventions – they’ve been anywhere from 10,000 attendees in size to 150,000+. Never, and I mean never, have I ever stood in a merchandise line for more than twenty minutes. Square Enix really dun goofed on this one – people were technically in line for the entirety of the convention. The merchandise line was so bad, the fire marshals shut it down at one point, people were given “priority passes” for the next day (still took my FC leader two hours to get through that line), and others camped the line overnight to the point where the hotel made them leave. There were a thousand different ways Square could have handled this, and having sold merch at other conventions, this was a severe disappointment and flaw in their planning. Get there early, and head straight for the merchandise area.

Bring cards with social media information

I know what you’re thinking – “But Tatjana! You have business cards!” Yes, you’re right, but that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of being a moron and totally forgetting them. For those of you who don’t have business cards, however, I highly recommend you print out some cards with your picture, e-mail, and social media handles. You will do a lot more socializing than you expect, and you’ll met tons of great people (some may be on your server, some may not). If you don’t want to just hand your phone number out to everyone and keep track of phone contacts, exchanging social media information is your best bet.

Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest Cosplay
Kat Romack handmade her maid attire and staff, testing each individual element multiple times along the way.

Test and prepare all cosplay elements ahead of time

As someone who has been cosplaying for well over a decade, you’d think this one would be a no-brainer. Well, sometimes we get over confident and if it looks right at first glance, we accept it as so and move on. The wig I purchased was too tight around my head, tangled too easily, and the bangs got in my face too much – had I tried it on before we left, I would have grabbed one of my other wigs from my other cosplays and packed that instead, having a much more comfortable Fanfest. My white mage boots tended to fall a lot, too, which was incredibly frustrating. I would have loved to have been able to buy some skin-safe tape to secure those puppies in place.

Don’t think you know whether or not something will fit or be comfortable. It just isn’t worth it – test and try on everything. Don’t wait until last minute, either. Give yourself at least a few days to ensure you have time to pick up any additional items to make your cosplay a comfortable experience.

The time goes by quicker than you think

There’s the terribly cliche saying of “time goes by when you’re having fun,” but what they don’t tell you is “time goes by when you’re having fun but it goes by even faster when you’re standing line both days and meeting awesome people that play the game and possibly making some great friendships that’ll last the rest of your life.” Pick up your badge and goodie bag on Thursday and spend the evening planning out exactly what you want to do, and how much time you want to spend time doing it. There are a lot of things I didn’t get to do because of poor time management.

Staying in the hotel it’s being held at is convenient, but not necessary

FanFest was held at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel this year, and the hotel was generous enough to offer a $150 flat rate for all attendees. However, after all of your resort fees and taxes, it’ll be closer to $200 a night for a mediocre hotel room with a couple of beds. If you know people in your Free Company, or others going in general, look into renting out an AirBnB.

We were able to rent a massive house with ten beds, three bathrooms, and a huge backyard with a nice patio and pool Thursday through Sunday for $161 each (there were seven of us). Not only did we have the comfort of coming to a home at the end of the day, but we weren’t crowded into a hotel room nor did we have to worry about noises coming from other people partying in other rooms.

If you want a question answered by the developers, do not rely on the panels – You will have to seek them out and be determined to get answers

The “Please Look Forward to It” panel featured some new information, plus answering questions from the crowd. You either took your chances getting called on during the panel itself, or you turned in a little card with your question on it beforehand, and gamble on it getting picked out of the bag. The panelists alternated between the questions on the cards and picking people from the crowd. Sadly, most of the questions were useless, stupid, and a waste of time. Square did not screen the card questions ahead of time, making for a panel filled with eye rolling and exasperated sighs.

I was running around the area lifting my giant staff trying to get called on, a I had a genuinely important question that would benefit a very large demographic of players (more on that later, I promise). Questions asked were legitimately “will we get a /squat and /pushup emote” and “can we get a new dying animation? I’m sick of the one we have.” Don’t expect the panel to help you – find the devs on your own accord, and get answers (thanks again to Koji Fox for taking my question seriously and speaking with me about it).

Have your e-mail settings correct to ensure you get a code for a ticket

The bad part about this, is some people had their settings right, and still didn’t get a code. You had to have an active subscription from May 1st, 2016 – June 6th, 2016, and also be a part of Square Enix’s Newsletter. I actually assumed I was a part of the newsletter, and am still unclear on where I’m supposed to sign up for it. If you didn’t mean these two requirements, you didn’t get a code (I was very fortunate someone else gave me theirs).

Someone in my Free Company actually did meet the requirements, and never got the code. He followed instructions on contacting Square to get a code so he could get tickets, but by the time they responded to him, the tickets were already sold out (and mind you, the convention hall could have held a lot more people and still been comfortable to walk around in, but again, they need more things for attendees to do). I can’t even begin to imagine how many codes were wasted and unused – I firmly believe people who attended the last fest or played Final Fantasy XI and/or 1.0 should have priority for event tickets.

Final Fantasy XIV
My 24-man raid challenge would have gone a LOT smoother if I knew EXACTLY what my setup looked like.

You only have a few minutes to change your settings for raids/roulette/challenges

The challenges are really fun, since you get to run an exclusive primal and do PvP live with a bunch of people. However, you do not use your actual character, and none of your settings are imported onto your station. Had I thought about it, I would have come prepared. I highly recommend having an index card for each job you may want to play at FanFest with your hotbar and UI settings. You only have a few minutes to adjust these things before you’re forced into battle, and going off of a card you keep in your pocket is much faster than trying to pull it from memory.

Was this your first FanFest? Even if it wasn’t, what do you wish you had been told ahead of time? Shout out in the comments below!