Okay so it’s been almost two weeks since FanFest! Time for a much belated response for my experience while there in Vegas.
We woke up before the roosters would crow even to drive off to the airport. Our flight was super early because we wanted to get there with plenty of time to adjust. The experience through the TSA was swift and the agents were surprisingly courteous, but at this point the Thanksgiving rush hasn’t hit so they’re not totally burned out yet! The first flight was alright. We landed in Atlanta ahead of schedule and got some lunch while we waited for our next. Unfortunately, this was what led to a disaster.
Ordinarily I slap my cards right back into my wallet after use. And honestly, these days I prefer mobile pay over card but the situation demanded otherwise. This one time complacency sets in! We ate our lunch and got up, and here I am thinking I had my card the whole time. Well… nope, it was gone! I didn’t even realize until after we arrived in Vegas and went to pay for our room at the Rio. Fortunately Nikki’s Aunt was able to cover for us, but this still left us at the Rio without any money.
I contacted cardholder services and had the card frozen, but I couldn’t call my bank thanks to time zones. During all of this as I’m still in my sweatpants from the trip here, Ryan and Tako greet us. Ryan gave me ALMOST the biggest hug I got during all of FanFest (the title there goes to Bloburai!), and hanging out with them chilled out the stress a bit. Either way, we still pretty much just collapsed in our room nice and early.
At five in the morning, or eight in the morning where we live, we wake up so I can contact my bank. They e-mail me some information I need and tell us that we can make a withdrawal from a nearby affiliated credit union. Thanks to a little foresight of having linked up Lyft and Uber to PayPal instead of my card, we make it there alright and finally have some money to take care of ourselves. It was a super busy day with all of the running around and shopping, but we did manage to meet a few friendly faces!
At one point in the afternoon we’re sitting there with Deli, Reio, and Anonymoose as Yoshi-P walks by with his entourage. I’ve never really been much one for celebrites, right? They’re just people like anyone else. But this man just has a presence like… if we hadn’t seen him you wouldn’t’ve known, but when you did you felt it? I’m not sure how to explain. While we were there several people stopped by for a quick bit, including uh… forgive me if I miss you. 😵 Kalce, Kipling, Yelta, ANOTHER Cinna (lots of Cinnamon folk at FanFest!), Chai… and more! I’m an introvert and awful with names I am sorry. 😭
We had In and Out today just so I could finally say I have. And honestly? I’m still not totally sure of what the big deal is? It’s alright and was almost the cheapest meal we had during the whole trip, though. I think we ended up spending almost more on the trip over there.
Day 0 – Registration
During the registration line we met two new friends, from Jenova. One of the two, Amoena, gave Nikki this really nice Astrologian ornament that’ll almost certainly find a spot on our tree when we set it up this year. She had a really nice, casual aesthetic White Mage cosplay during the contest. 10/10 on the shirt choice! When we finally got to our turn to sign in, I messed up and accidentally gave them the QR code for our merchandise pre-order. They did manage to resolve things though, and off we went with our bags.
The back pack is way more nice than I thought it would be. I’ve had this fear it’d be like those cheap sacks you’d remember from high school days, all tight against your shoulders. But no, it was really well made! Inside we had a packet of slips and things for FanFest to fill out and get stamped. Along with that was a Namazu magnet, a set of primal pins, and really nice rubber coasters. I’ve needed a new coaster as the one I’ve had for a decade now has been breaking apart! We traded one of our Namazu magnets to Reio for another pin set, as his bag was incorrectly stocked.
Day 0 – Pre-Order Merch Line
FOURTEEN! SEVEN! SIXTEEN! TWELVE! Once you got into the line for pre-order merchandise, you could hear this booming voice above all else. I really hope they got some water soon afterward! Those numbers were meant for the next available spot at the table to check your QR code for your pre-order bag. The merchandise room was separate from the rest of FanFest, which was a fantastic idea. It was filled with a sea of bags and we weren’t even there right when it opened. Almost an exact row behind us in line were Cirri and John, who we got to chat with quite a few times during the event.
Once it was our turn, I gave them the correct QR code this time and we checked off that we had everything. We still need to mail out Satori’s shirt and Aud’s carabineer, and we’ll probably do that along with the check for Nikki’s Aunt and our rent check. Lots of odds and ends to finish up–we’ve been too tired! The merch line was super quick though, and their system for keeping things organized seemed very well planned. I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who were at previous FanFests, so I’m glad our experience there was only good.
Day 0 – Underdressed Dinner
Later on in the evening we passed by Rubi, Cinna, and THE BEAN. Funnily enough, Cinna and I apparently had the same, “was that…?” thought. I nudged to Nikki and we went back to chase after them to say hi and if you hadn’t already figured out by now from Twitter, they are the cutest family in the entire XIV community. My gosh. We ended up being invited to a room party by Azuru Mitsuki, who was there with a few other friends. We hung out there for a while until heading out to the Cosmopolitan for Secret Pizza. I was woefully underdressed for the Cosmo, but on point for Secret Pizza. 10/10 would recommend that pizza place.
We even made some new friends for Pokemon Go in the meantime! Vegas was a great spot for it, with Pokemon and Pokestops all over the place. It was a radical change from where we live, to be sure.
Day 1 – The Keynote
WOW! THAT TRAILER! I’m still watching it, even as I type up this blog post. And it’s only a teaser trailer?! Geez. We managed to get decent seats for the Keynote, with Nikki having gone down to line up early. A few people were a little snarky about me walking up to her in line but… they did it themselves not even seconds earlier? Eh. Being there was awesome and you could taste the hype in the air after the trailer, and it only got better from there.
With Yoshi-P’s shirt reveal of the new race with Shadowbringers, Viera, and Matsuda-san’s cosplay reveal of Blue Mage… we’re in for a trip. Even the note that a “hint of one of the new jobs” is in the trailer, being obviously a gunblade style class given the weapon Thancred is wearing. But Thancred is without his eyepatch? And he’s protecting a little girl? But the only one he’d protect is…? Hm! I’m all in for the theories but I want to blab about that later.
Day 1 – Photo Booth
So I kind of had a huge thing planned for the photo booth, initially. After seeing that tiny, spinning platform though? NEW PLAN. We still took our shots though, with Nikki doing a quasi-SMN pose and me taking her cane as my “katana” for a SAM pose. The resulting 3D mp3 they’ve sent us is pretty neat, but I don’t think I’ll be sharing that here! 😅 The best picture taken up at the photo booth probably the entire time was of this giant Moogle, who was by far the most adorable thing at FanFest.
Day 1 – Between Two Fernes and Two Devs
We skipped on the dev panel (and watched it on stream later) in order to go eat breakfast since neither of us had eaten since early evening the day prior. Mille, Ana, and one of their friends of the Hyperion FC saw us at the Hash House after I gave Mille some terrible directions. Nikki’s usually the better choice for organizing things like this! Afterward we went back to the main room to wait on the lore panel, but the seats were crammed full. Instead, Nikki noticed there was a line forming… to take a picture with Yoshida and Yokozawa-san! Yuuuuuup! We got into that just before the line capped out, and I’ve got our picture on Twitter.
While we were doing that, the community there created a wild, Lalafell-eating fish named The Vegetarian. I’m not sure if I have the words to properly express Koji’s power over this world.
Day 1 – The Plan Enacts
As Nikki was star struck from being that close with Yoshi-P and getting hi and Yokozawa-san’s signatures in our lore book, I saw exactly what my final plan would be. Took out my phone really quickly and began messaging a ton of people, and I’m grateful beyond words that Tsuki and Ryan were watching and replied. We met up at the Aetheryte there, with Nikki totally stunned still and thinking we were just meeting up with some friends. I called her a little closer to the suspended, brightly glowing crystal and there…
She said yes.
I didn’t even hear the crowd’s cheering until after our hug, and thought it was for something wild on stage instead. Ahhhhh I’m still so excited! She surprised me with a double proposal–including a silicon ring in the color of her birthstone. The silicone band is perfect for my work so I don’t end up accidentally taking out a finger or something. 😅 Thanks again to Tsuki and Ryan for the pictures and support in an already extremely busy weekend.
Day 1 – Top Twenty
After a brief respite back in our room, we went back down to FanFest just in time to see Eva cross the stage in her brilliant Red Mage cosplay. Having seen how hard she’s worked on it, both on public and private Twitter, it was awesome getting to see her enter top 20 when she wasn’t even sure if she’d walk the stage. Congratulations, Eva!! And even still a job well done to all those who cosplayed. I’d like to think most of those attending could tell how difficult it was, not only making these sets but having the courage to wear them around and in such an already hot environment.
We tried meeting up with a few people, but everyone was just about everywhere. Eventually we gave up and went to go secure seats for the piano concert, which was nothing short of breathtaking. And refreshingly humorous, between Soken’s Yanxia energy and his charmed dance with Matt. What I’d give for even a drop of Soken’s boundless energy, I swear.
Afterward I ended up passing out in our room, and Nikki went to go and drink with Cirri and a bunch of other people. Shame that I missed it, but by Azeyma did I need that sleep! Kinda still do. 😴
Day 2 – Battle Challenges
The second day we spent mostly going around and doing the activities and challenges. We hung out with Reio for a bit while waiting for people to show up for our first shot at Yojimbo. It’s not a hard trial by any means, but it was a mess with the controls! We heard later the moderators were supposed to reset the configuration… nope! Bad enough having to use other periphereals and dealing without my Naga mouse, but only five minutes to set your HUD and fix your controls? Oi.
After our failure, we went over to watch the live letter for a bit. Rakuji surprised me with a literal “Look Behind You” tweet–and we got to meet her and Zeno. The main hall was super crowded, and at this point we’re having to literally sit on the floor in the back. After some of the more important points were covered, it was brought up that with most everyone here, the challenge lines would be super short. Heck yeah.
We took this opportunity to gather back up and try the challenge roulette. There was a huge monitor streaming the main hall in the gaming room, so we were able to see the live letter at least. Not that we could pay attention to it, because we rolled Susano challenge. During this, the moderator would occasionally call out Left or Right, and you had to swap to that seat! Enjoy changing over between controller and keyboard depending on who was there before! And perhaps even playing a job you’re completely unfamiliar with. With a little bit of luck we eeked out a win on our first try… and I’m not sure if I ever want to do that again. 😱
Day 2 – Finishing the Challenges
Next up we went over to Yojimbo again. Since the line was short, we were given eight minutes to setup instead. And this moderator had reset the controls! Yay! It was a much more smooth attempt this time around, with proper controls and a simpler HUD (as I learned from my first time…). John helped out quite a bit with the calls, as our first attempt folk were stacked a little too tightly almost all the time. With that clear under our belts, we split ways with the group as everyone wanted to do their own thing.
Nikki and I continued with our challenges. The Fashion Report LIVE was simple, with Nikki being a veteran of these having done them each week. However, she’s not nearly as experienced as I am in PvP. In the Dueling Arena, you were sat down across from one another with a fight stick setup on any melee job of your choice. She’s unfamiliar with melee and with PvP, so that was kind of an unfair win for me. Either way, it was three chances at a reward in our collective stash. And by the time we went over to the Kugane Tower Climb, they were just handing out stamps so… yep.
The rewards for doing them all were nice! Some stickers, a post card, and a double sided poster. We’re hoping to get those framed with the poster set we bought and change out some of the wall decor around back home… eventually.
Day 2 – THE PRIMALS
Too! Freaking! Awesome! We couldn’t manage to get the seats on the side that Nikki wanted, because by that time people were already holding pretty hard for friends. The entire back row on one side was pretty much one person per two chairs, all the way across. So much for politeness from folk at this point, I guess. We ended up resting at a table in the back by the signing board, which was more than fine enough to see and hear the concert. With people having taken excess chairs away from our table, the entire thing was claimed by Nikki and myself. It made for a very comfortable end to FanFest!
This was the first year they didn’t stream either of the concerts, so I’m extremely glad we got to go. Hearing both in person was fantastic, and Yoshi-P’s singing the Byakko theme lyrics was too great. Rise in person was as fantastic as one might have hoped, and honestly I think my ears are still ringing a little bit from it all. We had our glow sticks tuned to purple for most of it, as a symbol to our roommate Alma who couldn’t go this year. After the closing ceremony and some heartfelt words from the team, we were on our way out for the biggest attempt at gathering people in our whole time at FanFest.
Day 2 – KBBQ
We had this little Discord setup with hopes that we’d get some folk for KBBQ, battle challenges, etc. It sort of worked for some of it, and it didn’t for the rest. It’s really hard, even for folk like us, to have to kind of pick and choose friends to see and do things with! Nikki and I honestly thought it might only be the two of us for KBBQ at first. But Reio was already out by Honey Pig waiting, and Cirri hung out with us in our room for a bit prior. As we walked down to the gathering place, we saw Kalce, their friend, Rubi and Cinna, Deli, and Tsuki. Ending up with ten people for KBBQ was really fun! Our table loaded up on the meat, and just about absorbed it as the meat finished cooking.
I’d like to think this was the only shirt I wore during all of FanFest that didn’t wind up smelling like cigarettes. Ah, Vegas.
Exiting Day – Breakfast
The next morning as we’re preparing to leave, we setup to have some pho breakfast with Eva and Ryan. More like a brunch, I guess really? Tako shows up in the meantime, as do Rubi and Cinna. Ryan brings along some of his raidmates, and before you know it we went from a small, quiet breakfast to an ensemble of very excited, very tired friends. That’s some of the magic of FanFest it would seem, when it comes to food. Next time I’ll be a bit more careful so we can expand our options in that regard!
Some of us go up to Tako’s room afterward for a quick game of Mario Party. We only play one round before having to say goodbye to Ryan, and eventually mostly go our separate ways.
Exiting Day – Dinner
By the time dinner rolls around, we’re still hanging out with John and one of Ryan’s former(?) raidmates, who I’ll call Toasty from his Twitter name. I’m so sorry for forgetting. 😢 We needed a dinner option, and one comes up in the form of Dog Haus. With a name like that and in Vegas of all places with a specific focus on menu, I knew it’d be expensive. Nope! This was absolutely our cheapest meal of the entire weekend. These were fantastically grilled hot dogs on toasted Hawaiian sweet rolls, and they were like… $4 per hot dog. That price honestly felt kind of unfair to them! Definitely coming back here again though if FanFest 2020 is in Vegas again.
Thank you, everyone, for making this experience above and beyond my expectations. After everything that happened years back I kinda thought we’d be mostly by ourselves. We definitely didn’t meet everyone we wanted to, and we definitely met and hung out with more people than we thought. I am grateful beyond words to be here in this community. To be comfortable enough with myself and us here to take the next step in my relationship with Nikki surrounded by friends, whether we knew them or not. This has been an unforgettable and magic experience, and I hope we can be there for 2020 as well!
I’ll cover my thoughts on Blue Mage and more in later entries… gotta get back to work.