Fall 1999 was my last semester in college.
Like many last semesters my workload was pretty light.
Yeah, I was working full-time but I'd grown accustomed to the zany full-time school & work schedule over the previous three years so it felt like a vacation.
Rather than do something useful I spent the free time getting nostalgic with Genecyst.
After stumbling across Game Genie codes that disabled random battles and basically made everyone invincible, I decided to fire up Phantasy Star III.
Back in 1991-1992 I played through all seven generations the long way, I didn't have enough free time (or interest) in doing that again.
When I first played through Phantasy Star III I enjoyed it enough to crawl through each generation.
Yeah it was slow-paced, yeah it was largely inferior to its prequels, but it was interesting nonetheless.
The story, despite a few holes, was arguably the second best in the series (behind Phantasy Star II in my opinion).
Having even a little control over the characters and plot through the generation system was very innovative at the time.
The village and overworld graphics were, and still are, my favorite of the "classic" series.
The soundtrack was well done and created an emotional impact at times.
Taking a second journey through the worlds of Phantasy Star III reminded me of all the things that made me play through it years before.
It also reminded me that it's usually considered the "dark horse" of the series.
I browsed around the internet anything on the game but found little.
A guide or review here and there but nothing like the rest of the series had.
Other than fan fiction, it had poor representation.
Eventually I decided to create a "complete guide" to Phantasy Star III, one site that covered every aspect of the game.
In early 2000 I started creating The Complete Guide to Phantasy Star III. It was posted on my little web page and had walkthroughs, links, music, bug & glitches, and Genecyst save state downloads.
The biggest thing missing from the site was a maps section. The guide couldn't be considered "complete" without full-size maps of every town, castle, dungeon, and cave. However, my web host at the time had a 10mb limit. A complete set of full-size Phantasy Star III maps runs ~8.5mb. I realized I'd never be able to fit them all..
To resolve my web space issue I decided to check into having the site hosted on Classicgaming.com (part of the GameSpy network). The offered free hosting with basically unlimited space, you merely had to abide by their banner ad policy.
I shipped the site over and began expanding it. I added tons of maps, weekly polls, new bugs & glitches, calendars, fan fiction, and a heap of downloads. I kept this pace up until I felt the site had everything it could (well, except overworld maps).
Since Phantasy Star III doesn't generate a lot of new content, it was inevitable that the site would slow down. Starting graduate school in the evenings didn't help either. By 2002 updates to the site basically stopped. I added stuff here and there, even created more calendars, but the site was more or less static.
From 2004-2006 the site was essentially an archive. Let's face it, there's not a ton of new material for a 15 year-old game. It was fun to create and update the site for a while but had grown stale. For a while it looked like it would never be updated again.
Then in the late summer of 2006 two things peaked my interest in re-energizing the site:
- Sega announced a Sega Genesis collection for PS2 and PSP which includes Phantasy Star III. This obviously meant there would be a lot of gamers either trying Phantasy Star III for the first time or firing it up for old time's sake. At a minimum I figured I should clean up the site since there'd be at least a trickle of new visitors.
- More importantly though, even after ~2 idle years I still received a steady flow of emails about the site. I'm still surprised, and delighted, that visitors regularly drop a "great site" or "did you know about [fill in the blank]?" Those emails reminded me that people enjoyed the site and wanted to see it kept alive.
Web hosting had come a long way in 6 years. In 2000 I was paying ~$15 a month for 10mb site with 10 email addresses and no frills. Now I'm dropping
$7 a month for
350gb of space, unlimited email addresses, and more features than I could ever use. In another 6 years it'll be
2-5tb I'm sure. Anyway, I decided to move the site back to my domain. I thought
was a great host, I'm immensely grateful for the years of free hosting. The decision to move back was made primarily from an ease of management standpoint.
I guess some will wonder "if everything was fine on GameSpy/Classicgaming
why bother moving it?
" For one, it's just easier to manage a single site. I'm a very lazy person and simply switching between FTP connections is too much work. I've also never been thrilled about the ads used on
. Yeah, I have some discrete ads along the bottom of my pages. The
ads consist of random banners, redirection scripts, and pop-ups; all of which I find obnoxious. Of course it's their right to do this as they provided a free hosting service. If I was going to continue to maintain and update The Complete Guide to Phantasy Star III it had to come home..
Just moving the site wasn't enough, it needed a facelift. I made a list of "second generation" changes that more or less included:
- New stylesheets
- Removing frames
- Redoing the each page to fit the new style
- Cleaning up the maps section
- New Thanks and Site History sections
- Trimming out dead links
- General page maintenance