On December 6th 2014, a brand new FFXIV podcast aired its first ever episode. Speakers of Hydaelyn. A flustered and nervous Lukile Bravestone flicked the live switch, and the adventure begins. A total of 1 viewer had tuned in for the premiere, and tensions were high. On Lukile’s side was Vero Sombrero, the second host. The waiting music fades out. It’s time. However, the silence continues for longer than usual. Lukile forgot to unmute his mic, and the first ever words of the podcast were never heard. Instead, Lukile stumbles over his words as he repeats his opening monologue. “Welcome to Seekers of Hydaelyn” – not the name of the podcast, but the name of his FC. And there it is. Speakers of Hydaelyn was born.
3 years have passed since then, and a lot has happened. Let’s go through the key moments in the Podcast – and channel’s history.
A Difficult Start
On a cold November evening as Lukile and Vero sail through Syrcus Tower for their weekly loot, a conversation about podcasting comes up. Lukile, distraught that his favourite FFXIV podcast seems to be nearing the end, asks Vero if she’d be interested in starting their own XIV podcast. After all, Vero had previously worked in radio, and Lukile was studying Film and TV production at university.
An idea formed about a FFXIV Community Podcast for their Free Company ‘Seekers of Hydaelyn’. A pretty strange idea, to limit the audience to just the FC, but they agreed to at least test it out as soon as they had found a good format. The name of the podcast would be “Speakers of Hyadelyn”, a play on the FC’s name: “Seekers of Hydaelyn”. The premiere date was set for Saturday, December 6th 2014, and the episode would be broadcast on Twitch.tv.
Unlike most modern podcasts at the time, Speakers of Hydaelyn was going to be audio only – no facecams.
This was done to make it easier to concentrate on the topics at hand. It was thought that having a webcam on would be too distracting, and would lead to more potential technical issues.
On the day of the first episode, several technical tests were made. To save themselves from humiliation, the stream would not be announced anywhere.
The first episode acting more like a pilot – a test, to see if it was even possible to pull it off in the first place. As the episode aired, the viewcount never passed 1 viewer. Mostly 0.
As the troubled episode ended, Vero and Lukile both agreed that the show needed more work, but they were happy with the finished product. Speakers of Hydaelyn was born.
After the second episode had aired, Lukile and Vero felt like something was missing. A third voice. One of their good friends Lonegan Thifer also played FFXIV, and it didn’t take a long before they had convinced him to join the podcast. At this point, another important decision was made. Facecams. Speakers of Hydaelyn was becoming a video podcast, and on January 10th 2015, Lukile, Vero, and Lonegan appeared on screen for the first time.
Lonegan Thifer proved to be a great asset to the podcast. Whereas Vero was mostly focused on superficial things about XIV, like world design, character design etc, Lonegan’s interests centered on the game’s lore and jobs. Paired with Lukile’s own interests in the game’s lore and content, the podcast felt complete.
The initial design of the podcast was made in a few hours, as the decision to switch to video was made close to the air date for Episode 3. So the initial (yet iconic) design of the first season of SoH was born, made of stretched out versions of the Duty Finder window, placed on a blurry background of Limsa Lominsa.
The show would also initially only air live with no archiving options, so the design also included a live clock, showing the time in GMT. The third episode also included “The Vero Sombrero Lore Quiz”, which later would become “Who Wants to be a Gillionaire” later down the line. With the introduction of the video podcast, a YouTube channel was opened to archive the episodes for later. Not meant to serve anyone but themselves, the SpeakersXIV YouTube channel was born.
This period would prove to be the most difficult for the podcast. The low views made it difficult to stay motivated, resulting in less and less prep work. However Lukile was adamant that all they had to do was be consistent, and constantly improve on the previous episode’s faults. The podcast would carry on as normal, on a bi-weekly schedule for months. However, the podcast fell from grace among the hosts, and soon it would get difficult for Lukile to get all the hosts on the same episode.
By the summer of 2015, Speakers of Hydaelyn was crumbling. Vero Sombrero had left the podcast, and only Lonegan and Lukile was left. Episode XIV, only two months before the release of
Heavensward, was meant to be the first ever episode of Speakers of Hydaelyn with Vero Sombrero officially removed from the logo. The episode was shot in Lonegan’s apartment, with his kitchen clearly visible in the background. The audio bounced off the walls, and the production value was terrible.
At this point, the podcast felt like it was barely holding on. As the episode concluded, the next episode was set to air two weeks later.
However, that day would come and go with no new episodes releasing.
Lonegan was no longer able to attend the podcast, leaving Lukile with no co-hosts. At this point, Speakers of Hydaelyn had reached the bottom of the barrel. Surely this was the end. Speakers of Hydaelyn became quiet, and faded into darkness for more than a year.
During the dark times, Lukile would occasionally stream gameplay together with his XIV friend Orange Caramel. Together, they breathed new life into the abandoned channel with their “Cry of Fear” and “The Forest” playthroughs. The YouTube channel was renamed and rebranded as “Speakers Network” to better fit the new non-XIV related content being uploaded. This era also saw the birth of a new series: “Dead MMOs”, in which Lukile and Orange explored old and abandoned MMOs, and gave them a rating at the end. This was no good replacement for the podcast though, and Lukile felt the urge to revive it.
Lukile reached out to Orange, almost begging him to join him on the podcast. Orange was a very decided guy, and his strong opinions would probably make the podcast more lively. Orange accepts, and shortly after, Lonegan once again makes contact – he’s ready to return to SoH.
The Great Return & Rise
With Episode 15, SoH had made a pleasant return, and old viewers once again returned. Before the hiatus began, the podcast had gained a small following. Most of these returned for episode 15. And so, the second season of SoH began. At the same time, Lukile wanted to focus more on the YouTube channel that had previously only been used to archive podcast episodes and stream highlights. He had an idea. A video series focusing on 1.0’s fall and 2.0 subsequent success. At the time, no such series existed, only mentions and discussions about how bad the game was. Lukile would begin work on this project shortly after the podcast’s revival, with a teaser trailer released on October 28th 2016.
The first episode of the 1.0 series “The Fall and Rise of Final Fantasy XIV” was released on December 11th 2016. It would only gain about 60 views after the first few days. The channel was still super small at the time. The YouTube channel had only served as a podcast archive, and sat at around 70 subscribers. Orange convinced Lukile to post the episode on the FFXIV subreddit, to give it some exposure. After several attempts, Lukile finally clicks “submit”, and goes to bed.
The next day, the views started to pick up for real, and the comment section started flooding. The sub numbers skyrocketed. Confusion sets in. How was this possible? Shortly after, Lukile is made aware of a http://kotaku.com/yes-final-fantasty-xiv-really-was-this-bad-the-first-t-1789996867?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Twitter&utm_source=Kotaku_Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow“>Kotaku article using Fall and Rise as the basis for an article on 1.0. The channel would grow from a mere 70 subscribers to 2000 in a matter of days.
While this was good news for the YouTube channel, the podcast was still struggling. Lonegan was no longer able to attend the podcasts regularly, and in January 2017, the decision was made to let him go. The podcast would remain Lukile and Orange for a long time. It was during this time the podcast would see its biggest growth yet. A community formed, and soon, the podcast would have regulars tune in every week to hear Orange ramble on about chocolate milk and WoW, while Lukile struggled to keep the podcast running without any technical difficulties.
The channel would continue to grow, and with it came the need for a 3rd member. Lukile and Orange had befriended another person in XIV during the podcast’s hiatus. Maela Vanadar.
And they were certain he would be a great addition to the podcast. Slightly unwilling, Maela was convinced to appear on the podcast, albeit temporary. At the time, it was still thought that Lonegan would return, so the logo bearing Lonegan’s character’s face was still in use.
However, Lonegan would not return, and the logo would eventually be redesigned to no longer contain the hosts in the middle. This is the logo we still use today. This would mark the beginning of Season 3.
Maela would remain on the podcast permanently, no longer considered a temporary replacement for Lonegan.
Shortly after, thoughts about another host started to form. 4 hosts would probably ensure steady discussions regardless of topic. This idea was never aired public – there was no time to – because shortly after the idea had been discussed, an email popped into the Speakers of Hydaelyn mailbox. Yazz Pott sent in an application out of nowhere. No indications were given at the time that the podcast needed a 4th host. Almost interpreted as a sign from the gods, Yazz was quickly accepted, and would “intern” for the channel as a moderator, while a new overlay was designed to fit 4 faceams on screen at once.
A few weeks later, Yazz Pott appeared as the show’s 4th host.
The End of an Era
By the summer of 2017, Orange had started to grow tired of XIV. The game no longer interested him, and he wanted out of the podcast. On Episode 51, the shocking announcement was made – Orange is leaving Speakers of Hydaelyn effective immediately. The departure came so abruptly, most viewers thought it was a joke. As episode 52 aired, however, Orange was nowhere to be seen. The era of Orange Caramel had ended after a full year of SoH.
The New SoH & Speakers Network
https://i2.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Content.png?resize=519%2C151” sizes=”(max-width: 519px) 100vw, 519px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Content.png?w=519 519w, https://i2.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Content.png?resize=300%2C87 300w” alt=”” width=”519″ height=”151″ data-recalc-dims=”1″ />
Lukile, Maela and Yazz has been running the podcast more or less uninterrupted since Orange left in July 2017, and the podcast has no intentions of shutting down anytime soon. The podcast saw several upgrades and additions, like the Post-Show, which seeks to extend the Speakers airtime, while also being able to talk about non-XIV related stuff. The podcast has remained faithful to the core idea of the first ever episode of SoH. To interact with, inform, and entertain the XIV Community.
Speakers of Hydaelyn evolved into a main channel, Speakers Network, which in addition to the podcast, produce XIV-themed series like Remnants of a Realm, Secrets of a Realm, Comments of the Week & Speakers Plays. With several more series planned for 2018.
We would like to thank everyone who’s supported Speakers of Hydaelyn through the years.
Whether you are a new or veteran viewer/listener, your support is invaluable. We really couldn’t do this without you. It’s surreal to think about how lost we were when this podcast started, and how far we’ve come. 3 years is a long time for an mmo podcast, but we’re not going to stop anytime soon. We hope you’ll stick with us for the years to come. It’s been such fun a ride so far. Can’t wait to see where we’re going next!
https://i0.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SNBanner.png?resize=1104%2C462” sizes=”(max-width: 1104px) 100vw, 1104px” srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SNBanner.png?w=1733 1733w, https://i0.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SNBanner.png?resize=300%2C126 300w, https://i0.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SNBanner.png?resize=768%2C322 768w, https://i0.wp.com/speakersxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SNBanner.png?resize=1024%2C429 1024w” alt=”” width=”1104″ height=”462″ data-recalc-dims=”1″ />
May you ever walk in the light of the Crystal.
– Everyone at Speakers Network