Over the weekend, the Final Fantasy XIV community put its new data center travel system to the test as players crowded into Primal’s Leviathan server for another community-focused gathering. Sepia Art Party — a player-hosted celebration of the “hush-hush cabaret and lounge bar” era — united FFXIV‘s talented player base of artists, fans, and in-game photographers in a show of creativity that flooded Ishgard’s housing ward.
The night’s host, Angel, or Ser Verrot Mielnoireu for those visiting in-game, is no stranger to these events. Last May, they hosted Sepia Art Party’s precursor event XIV Art Bash, attracting over 100 artists, writers, crafters, and gposers in an out-of-game art trade using the #XIVArtBash Twitter tag. Participants were all assigned an FFXIV NPC and song to inspire creativity and shared their resulting creations through the tag. The celebration took place on Angel’s birthday back in May, giving them a way to unite the game’s talent through a mutual love of its world during a time that’s not always so easy.
“I have always struggled immensely with birthdays,” Angel said. “And after a long and challenging past two years, I felt the best way to celebrate was to bring others together in mutual love of this game. All in all, over one hundred pieces of artwork, crafts, and pieces of fiction were gifted to each other and the community at large.”
The tag is a treasure trove of talent, and last Friday’s #SepiaArtParty was no different. Hours before the event began, players flooded into Empyreum, resulting in crowds so big that not only could Verrot not enter his home, but players couldn’t even get into the housing ward. All of the server congestion led to spillover parties, packing a sea of eager guests around the Foundation Aetheryte.
It’s difficult to articulate the crowd size for Sepia Art Party; when groups get that big, they start loading in small batches. However, Angel estimates over 1,000 players showed up for the event, with crowds in Ishgard that look like something from an expansion launch. By the night’s end, #SepiaArtParty was trending on Twitter, and its talented guests dressed in glamour inspired by the ’20s, Victorian-era stylings, and shades of goth were sharing their creations.
— Sydney ???? working on comms (@zerosshadows) July 23, 2022
And that creativity, united under a shared love of FFXIV, is the party’s guiding purpose. In Angel’s explanation of FFXIV’s art party scene at large, they describe the gatherings as a chance to mingle with friends, sharing “hopes of drawing other people’s characters and having yours drawn in turn.” It’s a long-running FFXIV tradition, and this bash is among the first and perhaps the largest thrown after data center travel.
There’s a lot that goes into something like this, too. Sepia Art Party and XIV Art Bash weren’t successes by chance, and its organizer spent ages poring over advertisements, music playlists, prizes, websites, rules, and guides. Angel also assembled aesthetic mood boards for glamour inspiration, helping attendees stick to the night’s theme. Their approach is strikingly thoughtful for an in-game party, and the community often surprises in ways we may not expect from online gaming experiences. To respect a range of accommodations, Sepia Party guidelines also asked guests to keep flashy mounts, minions, and other effects to a minimum.
“I did my best to provide a ‘Quiet Zone’ in the back alley behind the plot,” Angel said. “I was pleased to see people listened and did not congest that area for the sake of those who are easily overwhelmed or needed room to breathe.”
There’s something truly endearing about the game’s scene for player-created characters, in-game events, and how these things interact with FFXIV’s own touching narrative threads. Perhaps the levels of attendance we saw Friday night aren’t the norm for every in-game function, but it’s quite a testament to player comradery and the game’s dedicated community spaces. And while Angel may give their charming Elezen a break for a while, they assured me he’d make a return at upcoming events — including an opera-themed party and a Halloween get-together later this year.
Like so many touched by FFXIV’s recent launch in Endwalker, I’m often left thinking about its themes of hope, nihilism, and finding your purpose. It’s a sentiment I stew on so frequently that I’m a little embarrassed or shy — but Angel makes a point that acknowledges a bit of that bashfulness we may feel. The game is a center of creativity the Sepia Party host isn’t afraid to dote on, and I’d have to agree.
“Writers, Limsa AFK’ers, Bards who always seem to turn up at events,” Angel began. “I love this corner of the community that sometimes gets laughed at; just a bunch of geeks bonding over something special.”
— ???? (@fifthfource) July 23, 2022
The MMO’s endlessly talented fanbase has made mainstream impressions in the past for its in-game events and creations. In addition to charming showcases like XIV Art Bash and Sepia Art Party, we’ve seen poppin’ nightclubs and the meticulously built Eorzean Aquarium. And next weekend, there’s another major celebration waiting with FFXIV Lunarcon — a player-hosted con with a packed guest list of popular FFXIV content creators.
Even if you aren’t in the mood for a gear grind or raid, FFXIV‘s community probably has a little niche waiting for you.