The creativity of the Final Fantasy 14 community knows no bounds. I often wonder if the Square Enix team ever planned some of the amazing things players would come to create or do in the game using mechanics and elements beyond their intended purpose. I love reading the patch notes now and thinking, “this will be great for shows” or “this is going to be used in the housing issue community” when it arrives. It adds an extra layer or creativity to a game that is already full of off-the-beaten-path mechanics and stories.
I think Macro Dance could very well be something that surprised the development team with how it grew within the community. If you’ve never heard of it before, it involves players using emotes and combat actions to create exciting dance performances. Many troupes pair their performances with custom third-party music playlists that viewers can listen to at the same time in order to push the boundaries beyond what’s possible with the game’s music selection. Like many other communities within FF14, this is an area that continues to evolve
I spoke with a few members of Esprit – an Aether-based macro dance troupe – about how macro dance as a form of expression has developed over the years. Interestingly, it’s not always the new additions to the game that have the most impact. Sometimes changes to existing content or overlooked mechanics can open up a whole new avenue for dance shows.
“Setting up new jobs has certainly opened up new horizons for macro dancing, as well as new mechanics,” Red tells me. “They also present unique challenges when mechanics are changed and removed; Flourish being returned to combat only, for example. However, we are still discovering mechanisms that can be used in dances that are not even new. For example, Fisher’s snapping animation bug. The new jobs, however, bring a new aesthetic and open the door to creativity for future songs.
To me, it feels like Endwalker wasn’t launched that long ago, but it’s already been over six months since we went to the moon. Naturally, this latest expansion has provided many new elements for players and various fan communities to adapt with their own creative twists. For Esprit, the two new roles gave the team a lot more actions to work with.
“Reaper and Sage are dreams to dance with,” says Ahro’zi. “They have so many flashy buttons. Sage is particularly a favorite of Spirit, as healing spells can be cast on ourselves or party members. While it’s certainly not new, we’ve learned to deal with cooldowns between classes, which is a very particular issue for us due to our constant switching of jobs.
While new or changed content naturally forces Esprit to adapt and alter its routines, other changes in its work come from learning how to streamline its performance by implementing new strategies.
“One of the more recent behind-the-scenes strategies we’ve implemented with our recent shows is the use of attack target marking to allow for easier targeting mid-performance,” Ren explains. “It allows for much easier organization, especially in the midterms, where before we usually had to sort through party lists and set concentration targets, which we often forget to put in place.”
The first macro dance troupe I ever saw was Tech Step, and I remember being blown away by how beautiful the show was. I walked in, not knowing what to expect, and was impressed by the level of detail and stagecraft, with the team providing comedic numbers and recreating well-known and touching FF14 battles. Much like macro dance itself, the team has evolved and changed over time, with many members creating Esprit.
“Tech Step has grown much faster than expected for staff,” says Vix. “With the band’s exposure via various events putting the pressure on to up the ante, the decision was made to disband Tech Step and start over. We started over from the beginning, basically. But this time we were ready and prepared for the growth and attention that our work seems to inspire.
“We decided to focus more on being a troupe, and not just a catch-all community like Tech Step was. This decision allowed us to have much more control and allowed for a firmer degree of leadership. Esprit, therefore, has a stronger foundation with the same passion, hard work and community focus that we have always had. We just have better support systems in place for leadership, dancers and our many newbies. We’ve already seen the fruit of that decision, with three big shows already under our belt and countless smaller ones.
“In addition to our rooms looking better than they’ve ever looked, the new organizational tools allow for a high degree of structuring,” adds Ahro’zi. “While not ‘automated’, we have systems in place that facilitate shows and community aspects that foster growth that Tech Step was simply not equipped to handle. This stronger structure allowed us to focus more on the show and less on the management angle.
The team shake-up and changes Esprit members implemented, such as more structures and systems in place to help guide performance, allowed them to focus on what they really wanted to accomplish. . Vix explains, “Over time, things have become more and more plug and play, allowing us to spend less time worrying about logistics and more effort and passion for polishing and production value.
“Holy shit, our shows are so cool now,” Ahro’zi tells me excitedly. “People are doing wild stuff that I didn’t know was possible. I’ll just talk about our community if I don’t stop, haha. The technical angle of some of our band numbers is insane and reminds me a lot of actual musical theatre, to be honest. With much of the organizational weight lifted from people’s shoulders, the amount of tweaking they are able to do has increased.
Esprit recently performed at LunarCon 2022 and pushed their performance boundaries. Their Endwalker-inspired performances are arguably their best yet, with their To the Edge number involving nine dancers, while Footfalls had a whopping 14. You can check out their LunarCon performance here or stay up to date with Esprit via their website.
NEXT: Final Fantasy 14 Community Spotlight: LunarCon