As planned in my New Year's resolution blog post, I spent most of last weekend playing through Final Fantasy XII non-stop along with a friend of mine who was visiting and a ton of cool people on Twitter. Although we didn't come close to finishing the game, I definitely mark the experience as a huge success.

Part of the not-finishing problem came from the fact that I kept finding myself easily distracted. I love Final Fantasy games, but I'm not the kind of guy who does every single sidequest. If the FF games had a quest log or something, then I'm sure I'd be obsessive about it, but since it's usually tiny stuff that you need to remember on your own, I ignore them. In FFXII, though, they introduced the Hunt system, which does come with its own handy quest log. So basically, I'm screwed.

I found myself jumping into every Hunt that I could as they opened up to me. If a mark was too powerful at the time I tried to tackle it, I'd just keep throwing myself at it again and again until I figured out a trick to defeating the beast. The only Hunts I was able to set aside (FOR NOW) were the special marks handed out by the clan. Those guys clearly require a level of preparation and grinding that I wasn't quite ready for. But I will be back for them.

These Hunts are well-serviced by the incredibly massive landscapes present in Final Fantasy XII. The game doesn't have an overworld like most Final Fantasy games, but it also manages to avoid FFX's linear feeling. I've heard from others who are bothered by the openness and lack of direction in some of the game's huge zones, but I totally loved it. The large open areas provide both an interesting space for these bonus activities to take place and a sense of a huge world that's not just there for your grand adventure.

At the end point of the game-a-thon on Sunday night, I had logged just under 15 hours. Not bad for two days! For those familiar with the game's area progression, I'm currently in the Nam-Yensa Sandsea. I'm hoping to hold onto this momentum and ride it to completion before March (when Final Fantasy XIII comes out), but it's going to be a challenge considering how many incredible games are releasing in January and February. I'll just need to keep reminding myself of my resolution.

One thing is certain though: I definitely want to do more of these weekend gaming events. Playing along with a bunch of people through Twitter was an amazing experience. We all exchanged thoughts about the game, gave each other tips on where to go and what to do next, and just generally had a fun time discussing and sharing our experiences. I want to make that happen again, and I'll definitely be planning some stuff for the future with my pkollar_live account.

Until then, I want to send out a huge thanks to the following Twitter-folk who played or commented along using the #ff12live hashtag: @delerat, @Jeremy_Lamont, @KyleHorner, @V_Ben, @John_Carson, @EbbFlowe, @ververdan, @neurotech, @cselogy, @defteats, @Albedo12, @Coltonio, and @NikkiAndrews. You were a blast, and I hope you'll join me for whatever the next game-a-thon is!