As promised, i am back with pics and a story to share!

First of all i want to thank you all for your support! You were the ones who made it happen and I cannot thank you enough for going all out on my behalf!
Also lots of kudos and respect to all other contestants, you guys are awesome and I am happy to have made some new friends.

Before I review the recent events I will go back in time a bit for those who did not catch what happened.

Since my childhood I am a Final Fantasy Fan, I played the games when I was a kid and the work of Yoshitaka amano, Nobuo Uemetsau were among
the big motivators for me to become a game developer and Artist. Today I am a pro concept artist, art director and developer.

I am the founder of Grimm Bros LLC, Toy Golem and HD-Fortress Studios. Being pro I still have my hobbies and I love the work of Yoshitaka Amano.
It is not uncommon, in fact a great deal of professionals in the game dev industry are big nerds and geeks :)


Sometimes mid of last year Square Enix NA discovered some pics of my FF collection that was going around reddit http://imgur.com/a/8dl3N
SE NA featured my collection on their official blog:http://na.square-enix.com/finalfantasy/go/article/view/blog/259519/amazing_final_fantasy_personal_fan_collection!

As a present i got a large box with sealed game titles and demos, that was a very nice gesture and a great feeling after having spend many resources
on the collection to get back something of value as well. Here is a pic:  http://www.wecookart.com/collection/presento.jpg

A couple months later Square Enix started a FF SF competition, I took part in it and made it into the finals. All the other Entries were great as well!
I knew some of the people since from before this contest and was happy to see them in the finals as well. Personally I think that everyone did really great.


With the help of friends, social media, reddit and features on various sites like Kotaku, CA, DA and others I won the contest,
leading with over 1000 votes.

Soon after the  official results were released I was contacted and congratulated by various Square Enix departments and received my
hotel booking and flight tickets to Paris.
Part of the prize were two concert tickets for the Final Fantasy Distant World Concert in Paris so my fiancée got to travel with me
(I of course would have taken her with me regardless )
We were both pretty excited, it was especially nice because it was her first visit in Paris.

Beginning of January we took a flight to Europe from Asia (that is where I am located atm)

The first week we did spend with my Family in Berlin. Shortly after arrival I have received a Package from Square Enix NA with some goodies !
The box contained a file with a letter, a plush chocobo and a set of FF Creatures (Vol.3)

Square Enix Germany did also send a large envelope with Holiday wishes and a Hitman Tie
They did also congratulate me for winning the contest, everyone was very nice.

It was great to see my brother again, here we are having a beer together
(My brother on the left and me on the right)

After some relaxing time with the family we continued our travel to Paris.

Square Enix has booked us a hotel right in the city center for 2 nights and we have extended our stay by one week to see more of the city.
On the first weekend  we finally met up with Square Enix representatives.
It was a pleasure meeting  the Square Enix brand manager Rui Anderson in person after having exchanged many emails. Rui is a fun and
super nice person and as we both have cats we made friends. It was also great to finally meet Ben Bateman, Central Community Manager
of SE EU and Adam Phillips, the Square Enix EU PR Manager.


We had a long and interesting talk over some hot cups of tea while waiting for my interview.

Then came a surprise followed by another surprise.


(I borrowed this 3 shots from the Famitsu magazine)

I was not warned in advances that Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase would be present and was surprised to see both present.
They presented me with a custom made Crystal, engraved with a chocobo, the company logo, date and title. I am now the owner of this unique FF Item.

We shook hands, Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase congratulated me on winning the contest and we took some pictures together.
My name will be added to the Final Fantasy XIII – 3 cast roll in the game.


Here are some shots of the Crystal I took back at home:

The Crystal now has a special spot in one of my displays together with the FF Ultimate Box

I was pleased to hear from the Japanese developers that they have received some of my art prints. Last year I was in Tokyo,
attending the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary event and left a couple prints with the staff present at the event for the developers,
it is nice to see that it found the right hands and was remembered.
SE NA and SE EU also received some of my artprints and I was told that they will be hanged in the offices.


This is me last year at the SQ 25th Anniversary event, i was wearing a scarf because i had a nasty sunburn on my Neck :D

You can see the artworks in my album on imgur: http://imgur.com/a/hWjnA

After this meeting I had an Interview with Famitsu. If you don’t know Famitsu, it is a very famous and popular Gaming Mag in
Japan and I was very thrilled to get a full page in that mag!
I will tell more about the Famitsu Interview another Time when I get the magazine Shipped and translated.

Here is me with the super nice Famitsu Editors, both very nice and funny and I was very pleased to know
that they were very familiar with all the old titles from the famicom and super famicom times.

Here is me answering the first question of how it felt winning the contest.

The interview was fun and I got a Famitsu issue as a present along with the Final Fantasy Famitsu Memoria Booklet.
It contains brief reviews of all numbered FF titles and some background infos and interviews.

After a brief rest I had a video interview for Square Enix Members with Ben Bateman.
I think it went well and Ben promised to make me look handsome with some magic editing techniques.
I was pretty excited and hope that I didn’t mumble anything weird.

Here is Ben, me and my Fiancé, May. She does btw also enjoy FF, has played some of the older titles and even used to make some FF cosplay.
She is cool with my Hobbies.

After the interview we had a bit time to talk and then I also received the concert cards and VIP Tickets for the Concert!

The concert was held at the Palais des Congrès. When we arrived the entrances to the concert hall were packed with hundreds of people.
Thanks to the VIP cards we were able to enter without any wait! Phew


Picture borrowed from Famitsu

The Theatre was filled and mysteriously there even were more people than seats, this is I guess because of numerous promo tickets…


We were provided with great seats but some of the nice SquareEnix guys traded with us so we got the best seats right in the middle
in the same raw with Nobuo Uematsu and the remaining Square Enix staff.
We were really excited to listen to the Music and slightly concerned at first when all the fans started shouting and clapping but as soon
as the music started every noise died down instantly!

The orchestra was accompanied by some visuals projected on a large screen,
Corresponding to the tracks played, snippets from the respective Final Fantasy Games were shown.
It was very nostalgic to see the old titles while listening to the music.
The music was of course beautiful! I have listened the performances numerous times on CD but nothing beats a life performance!
The sound quality was plain awesome!




It was a great treat to see Nubuo Uematsu actually be part of the performance of a Final Fantasy VI (my fav FF)
track along with the conductor Arnie Roth who played the violin.

Also the vocal parts performed by Susan Calloway were great! All in all it was a great concert!
After the show we got to meet Nobuo Uematsu, Arnie Roth and Susan in person.
Rui Anderson introduced us and I had the chance to shake hands, express myself briefly and to hand out some presents I brought along.

I presented Nobuo Uematsu with a Canvas-print of my Painting of him, he seemed very happy and I hope that he likes the gift.

Of course we got some goodies signed as well! :D

Final Fantasy limited edition Vinyl Set

The old and rare Final Fantasy I-II OST on Cassette Tape

It was a honor meeting Nubuo Uematsu in person and to see him perform.
We had a great evening and great trip!

Now we are back in Thailand, chilling at the beach as I am writing this review

Thank you all very much for all the Support! And big Thanks to Square Enix and Famitsu!
Also thanks a lot to my Mom for cooking all the awesome food for us! It is amazing how much weight
one can put in only 2 weeks before the concert!

Thank you for reading!

Feel free to follow my FF Collection on my FB Page:
http://www.facebook.com/FinalFantasyCollection

If curious you can see pictures of my Collection on Imgur:

Album 1: http://imgur.com/a/8dl3N
Album 2: http://imgur.com/a/GekEE

some of my art: http://imgur.com/a/UKHM6


Cheers
Randis