After completing two successful projects with the XIV community to celebrate Yoshida's birthday, we were unsure what to do this year, or even if to do something at all. After discussing possibilities with the community and conducting polls asking if people wish us to complete another birthday project for Yoshida, it became clear that it is something the community adore taking part in, as it gives them the means to show Yoshida how grateful we all are.
We decided after the complex and ambitious birthday gift of an original song and blu-ray last year, that we would make it easier for more people to take part by reprising our first gift of a message book. However we also decided to run a second project simultaneously, as previous birthday gifts had community members asking if they could include a message for the dev team with their message for Yoshida. In order to make Yoshida's birthday just about him, a plan for a second message book was put into action, but this quickly snowballed into something much much larger which we will get into further into this blog.
But first, lets start with Yoshida's birthday gift.
The message book was once more very successful with some beautiful messages and illustrations. The cover was designed by Denny Draws with the main focus being on the artwork of "Gyoshi P" provided by the one and only Tuhis.
We are thankful to those who continue to volunteer their time and talent in order to help us make such beautiful and professional looking gifts.
The North American, European, Chinese, Japanese and for the first time, the Korean community, all came together to write some beautiful words filling 238 pages.
But it wasn't just a book we made him. People grouped together and donated into a pool to have a custom silver bracelet made for Yoshida. We had a few design ideas thrown around but eventually we settled with using Shadowbringers as inspiration so it could also be used as a memento for this expansion. Our project lead worked with a jewelry maker to come up with a clean yet eye catching design with a simple thank you to be engraved on the back.
It came out wonderful and is a weighty piece with the FFXIV meteor as the clasp giving it a nice finishing touch and we hope you agree. We have not seen Yoshida wear it but we are sure he has it in a safe place.
Now onto the gift(s) for the FFXIV team.
As mentioned, we planned for a second message book to be produced alongside the one we put together for Yoshida. It was a lot more work than originally expected and took a lot of weeks to collate it all together, especially as it's only one person working on the layout and collection and organizing of the entries. Something people also don't think about when you produce these projects is promotion and spreading the word, especially when you are trying to involve communities that you are not part of, for example China and South Korea. It took time for our project lead to build rapport with representatives from the non-English speaking communities, but in the end we were successful on bringing the worldwide FFXIV community together onto one project.
Denny did the artwork once more using Namazu team members designed by Eiko Makimachi.
But we didn't stop at just a book.... our project lead decided to create more work for herself and to have people send in screenshots and FFXIV related pictures to be turned into a giant mosaic flag to be sent with the book to the Japanese headquarters. In the end we have in excess of 2000 images used on the flag, and every one of them was unique. It took a lot of work but we were pleased with the results.
Once more... we didn't stop there. Due to Tuhis' Namazu team member designs in the book, one member of the FED EU discord came up with an idea to make T-shirt of Tuhis' Otamatone design for Soken, this quickly snowballed into five different designs for team members. Of course it would have been great to have a shirt made for every team member but we are afraid that our budget could only stretch so far. So we shortlisted the shirt designs to those people who made us smile at the Paris Fan Festival.
Recently we saw Soken wearing his shirt on live steam which was a pleasant surprise.
As an extra little gift, we sent prints of all the namazu team images Tuhis made for the book, once more Soken was spotted with it on display at his desk on his recent television interview.
In addition you can see Yoshida wear his T-shirt and see the banner we made hang behind him, as well as the books in an instagram photo taken during Yoshida's birthday in May.
Feedback we received from Square Enix was very positive. The staff loved the messages and their were smiles and laughter at all the gifts.
As always we couldn't make these projects a reality without the amazing XIV community. We look forward to planning the next one.. and maybe, we are already brainstorming.