Starter city’s tall towers, tiny details all look amazing thanks to Shizuoka creative team.

This year, Final Fantasy XIV is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Actually, depending on how you do the math, you could say the ongoing online multiplayer installment of Square Enix’s premiere role-playing video game franchise is celebrating its 13th anniversary. Final Fantasy XIV originally came out in 2010, but after an unhappy response from players the game was shut down and swept away entirely for a complete relaunch as a different game of the same name in 2013, which has since gone on to be one of the biggest fan-pleasing hits for the series in recent memory.

But whether you call it the 10th anniversary or the 13th, a game reaching such a milestone while still maintaining a prodigious player base is a big accomplishment, and Square Enix has celebrated it in a big way, with a massive real-world diorama of Final Fantasy XIV’s Ul’dah.

Ul’dah is one of the three selectable starting locations in Final Fantasy XIV, but whichever players choose, they’ll spend a lot of time in the sandy city-state. It’s where several important scenes of main-quest adventure and intrigue take place in the early arcs of the game’s sprawling storyline, as well as the site of numerous class-specific side quest arcs and an always bustling marketplace both for trading with NPCs and other characters.

Even at an approximate 1/180 scale, the diorama is still roughly two square meters (21.5 square feet) in size. Ul’dah isn’t an architecturally simple city either, with its series of soaring spires and towers displaying a complex mix of Arabian and European-inspired flourishes.

But the artists of Shizuoka Prefecture’s Walnuts Clay Work Studio were up to the task. As shown in the time-lapse video of Ul’dah’s construction, they painstakingly recreated even the tiny details of the brickwork and gate mechanisms, and have populated the miniature city with figurines of adventurers dressed in the clothing and armor available to players within Final Fantasy XIV.

If the video has you wondering if a Final Fantasy game could ever have in-game graphics like this, the idea actually isn’t that far-fetched. Walnuts also built dioramas which were used as the visuals in Fantasian and Terra Battle, a pair of mobile games both created by Mistwalker, the development studio founded by original Final Fantasy creator and director Hironobu Sakaguchi.

That said, given the size and scope of the Final Fantasy games, a diorama-based mainline installment in the series is probably a cost-prohibitive daydream, but at least we’ve got Ul’dah to admire.

Source: YouTube/FINAL FANTASY XIV, Twitter/@walnuts_studio via Anime News Network/Joanna Cayanan
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