Hello again to all you FFXIVers out there, and to all of you looking forward to FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn. Are you ready for Letter from the Producer #35? We have some important information concerning the alpha test for A Realm Reborn, as well as the grand finale for the current version of FFXIV, so this is gonna be a long one. Make sure you’ve got some time on your hands so you can sit back, get comfy, and enjoy!

The insanity of gamescom 2012 has come to an end, and the FINAL FANTASY 25th Anniversary event begins tomorrow. FFXIV will be there with a live stage event, showing off some of our dev materials, as well as the costumes and weapons used in filming the current version’s commercial way back in 2010!

We’ll also be running the demo we first released at gamescom...but that’s nothing new, right? So naturally we’ll have some fresh info ready for you as well. Whether you’re there in person, or watching it live on whatever media you have available, don’t miss the on-stage event!

For our English, German, and French-speaking fans, we plan to subtitle the event and release it on the FINAL FANTASY XIV Channel in the following days. We’ll do our best to have this available as soon as possible for those who missed the event on the day.

Speaking of showing videos, some of you have been wondering why we haven’t officially released the footage of the demo we ran at gamescom. The answer to that is simple: it still looks like an ordinary MMO. Sure, our current players have been bowled over by the differences between the original version and A Realm Reborn. However, for those discerning MMO fans who haven’t played the original version, A Realm Reborn in its current state merely looks like your everyday MMO...just with better graphics. Yes, we expected fans to upload their own videos of the gamescom demo, but I think that at this point in the dev cycle, this is a more exciting way for people to be a part of the whole process.

The alpha test has yet to begin, and the beta is still a bit further down the track. This time around, we want to make sure we’re fully satisfied with the content before sending it out into the big, wide world. Beta won’t start until I’m 100% happy things are ready for that stage, and we won’t go live with the final version until after we’ve had the chance to consider and implement feedback from the beta.

I know it’s turning into a long wait for you guys, but rest assured we aren’t wasting a single second of this time. Our team is aiming to create a top-notch MMO, as well as a top-notch FINAL FANTASY title, and is working at their absolute fullest capacity on the rebirth of the realm of Eorzea. We are extremely grateful for your continuing patience. (Really, really grateful!)

And as we’re still pouring all of our energy into development, I’m sorry to say that we won’t suddenly be putting up walkthroughs for every in-game area or making a bunch of introductory gameplay videos—but we will get to each of these in time.

For starters, we plan to release a trailer that is put together with in-game footage and focuses mainly on battle. And don’t forget that Tokyo Game Show is coming up soon!

Well, my little intro here has gone on long enough, so let’s move on to our two main topics.

Alpha Test for FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn

Since we’re almost ready for the alpha test for A Realm Reborn, we want to start recruiting players of the current version to assist us as alpha testers. Rather than looking at the actual gameplay, we’ll be asking players to cooperate with the dev team in things like server stress tests, as well as testing other fundamental mechanics of the game. You will be required to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and the experience will be a far cry from playing the finished product. Available characters, classes, levels, and game content itself will be limited, and testers are accepted strictly on a volunteer basis. Keep those details in mind when you sign up.

The alpha test will be broken up into four phases, each of which will consist of multiple cycles of “test and tweak.” While we have no intention of shutting out our overseas players, the alpha test will initially be restricted to Japanese residents only until we reach Phase 2 or so.

The reason being that with our entire dev ream stationed here in Japan, we would be unable to swiftly respond to unexpected server crashes or other critical issues if we left the alpha test servers running 24/7. Once we’ve confirmed that the servers are sufficiently stable, we’ll open the alpha test to players outside of Japan.

Think of the alpha test up until Phase 2 as a preparation period that allows us to put in place the structure necessary to test and receive feedback on a global scale—that being our ultimate goal. Recruitment for alpha testers, on the other hand, will take place simultaneously in all regions, so if you think you’re up to the task we’d love to have you on board!

We’ll be putting up a tester recruitment site, and further details of the alpha test will be found there.

Grand Finale for the Current Version of FINAL FANTASY XIV

The grand finale is right around the corner, as the Seventh Umbral Era descends on Eorzea. A final save maintenance for current version character data is scheduled for November 1, 2012, followed by all Worlds coming down on November 11, 2012 at 0:00am (PST) / 8:00am (GMT). Then at 2:00am (PST) / 10:00am (GMT), also on November 11, we’re planning to run a live Letter from the Producer.

The event of all the Worlds coming down signifies the curtain closing on the current story of FFXIV. Your character data will be preserved with the final save maintenance on November 1, and transferred to A Realm Reborn. (The only change to your data will be the coordinates where your character appears after logging in.)

The plan is to completely shut down the current version after that point, although that may change depending on how you guys respond to a little poll we have.

Basically, what we want to know is, do you want to keep playing the current version even after we bring all the Worlds down?

We can bring the servers back up after a few days, and you’ll be able to keep playing the game just like normal...but your final save data will remain unchanged.

Only the character data saved during the November 1 maintenance will be carried over to A Realm Reborn. The devs will also be focusing on the new version, and there will be no more patches or bug fixes for the current version after this point. But it seems a real shame to take away a venue where players can get together as a community. If we brought the servers back online, you would, however, need to ignore the inevitable story contradictions. Considering these factors, players that have an active subscription as of September 30, 2012, would play for free.

FINAL FANTASY XIV is as much yours as it is ours, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Keep an eye on the coming FINAL FANTASY Anniversary Event, TGS, the alpha test, and the non-stop, we-break-for-no-one journey towards FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn!

See you next letter, or on the forums!