Hi! My name is Abby and I’m the founder of Abyssal Chronicles. I’ve been a fan of the Tales of Series for practically 10 years now, and I love it so much to the point that I started a fan-run website for it. 8 years later, and we have Abyssal Chronicles – one of the largest Tales of fansites you’ll have around, with regular contests and online events thanks to Bandai Namco themselves having our backs.
However, things didn’t always start off this extravagant for AC.
As part of our Computer studies curriculum, we had to make a single, simple HTML webpage about something we liked. Instantly, I thought of the Tales of Series. Things got a little out of hand for me. Instead of making a single page, I made an entire page for each Tales game and practically made an entire website. AC however wasn’t always as pretty. It was made of horrid black and yellow colors and full of cluttered tables and background music playing automatically.
The good ol’ horrid days of tables and clashing colors.
After passing it as my homework, I decided to put it up online as a Tales fansite. Things weren’t easy then, mainly because there were already so many Tales fansites running at that time (Majinken, Raijinken, Symphonic Heaven now known as Tales Union, Temple of Undine to name a few). Nonetheless, I hosted AC under a Freewebs domain and just started running it for kicks. Inspired by how Symphonic Heaven was named after Tales of Symphonia, I named AC after Tales of the Abyss, which was just released in the West at that time.
The other fansites were more than welcoming to have AC around, even giving feedback and constructive criticism mainly design-wise. Majority of the help and feedback I got from people over at the Majinken Forums. I can say that at least 60% of what I know in Photoshop and graphic design, I learned from someone named Bunnywisk.
That said, you won’t really get far with a Freewebs domain. After a few months or so, AC only had very few followers, and the ugly layout finally got to me. With a little more research on web design and coding, I decided to revamp the entire layout for Christmas. It was also during this time that I met Scott (sukotsuto), a fellow Filipino situated in the US who expressed his interest in AC. Thanks to his and another friend Stuart’s help (Kazuya_NT, owner of NeoGeoForLife), we managed to secure a .com domain name for AC, and under this domain, I debuted the new AC with the blue Christmas layout.
Is it obvious how much I particularly like this particular Tales of the Abyss pair?
Having a .com domain and a proper layout worked wonders. AC’s visitor traffic immediately increased, and we had more and more people joining our Proboards forums. We reached an all time high to the point that we even got merger offers from Tales Union (formerly Symphonic Heaven), but we decided to stay independent.
It really wasn’t easy to catch up to AC’s popularity. I forgot to mention initially, but during this time, I didn’t have a personal computer of my own, nor did we have any internet at home. I’d highly rely on those 24-hour internet cafes to get Tales news updates done. That said, imagine getting home almost every single night at the wee hours of midnight (time zone differences) just to post news. My Dad finally got tired of it and worried too much, so he finally gave in and got me a PC (a cheap one, but it does the job nonetheless) and a proper internet connection. This was practically 4 years in, though.
AC from then on highly relies on affiliate programs to run. Funds we get from those are automatically transferred for contest funds – i.e. prizes for contests. There were times that we’d have to get cash from our own pocket to fund contests, but as long as the fans were happy and getting what they want, that’s all that matters.
Years later, we were surprised to receive contact from Ms. Hollie from Bandai Namco UK (now currently with PlayStation UK), offering to help us out in various contests and prizes. We instantly agreed, and AC’s popularity boomed even more now that we had a Bamco branch helping us out. Hollie was more than just a helpful Bamco community manager – she is practically a good friend who helped us out a lot (and does so even until now that she’s with PlayStation). Thanks to her giving notice to us we were finally noticed even by the US branch, as well as the main Europe branch thanks to Isshak the EU Community Manager.
From them on, we’d get regular support from the US and EU branches for our contests and website content. You’ll notice the magnitude of our prizes have leveled up, and it’s mainly thanks to Bamco. Of course, we still provide our own funding for AC’s contests, and that’s what enables us to shelf out so many prizes every game release. It’s reached a point where, according to the Western Bamco branches, even the Japan branch knows of AC’s existence, and that just makes us swell with so much pride at how our little baby has grown into… into this big family.
Running AC isn’t exactly easy, but thanks to the staff helping out like Richard (panbanrich) and Sara (cutepresea), we get by somehow. I can honestly say we’re big right now, but it wasn’t like that 2-3 years ago. We reached how we are now after 8 years of working on the website and practically groveling on the ground. It saddens me that the other fansites, majority of which are what inspired me to even start AC in the first place, are no longer around. But that’s just how life is – once it catches up to you, sometimes you’ll just have to give up a few things.
Majority aren’t aware, but even though I’m running AC in the sidelines of my life, my true career is that of a doctor. I’m technically still a general physician but I will be training for my specialization soon (either Pediatrics or Obstetrics). Whether or not life will eventually catch up to me and grab me back into its waves, I don’t know when. However, I can say both the Tales of Series and AC is practically already a big part of my life and I don’t think I’ll be leaving it anytime soon.
Safe to say, AC will still be around for the next 10 years, and albeit slow, we’re doing our best to try and get AC’s new layout and new content released as soon as possible, so please look forward to it!
Big thanks to the people who made AC what it is now – sukotsuto, if it weren’t for him we wouldn’t have that .com domain in the first place, Kazuya_NT who handles our web hosting and tolerates my complaints whenever something goes wrong with the website, Hollie for taking notice of AC first and being a great friend, Isshak from the main EU/France branch for being a great friend and for the many opportunities he’s given AC, Nick and Joseph from the US Bamco branch for helping us out in contests, Edwin from the UK branch for always helping us out as well, PanbanRich and cutepresea for running AC when I’m not around, and to the previous staff that are no longer here/no longer active but did mold AC into how it is now (Picup, Natsumi, LaZyEnErGeTiC), and of course, YOU guys who turn to AC for your daily fix of Tales news and shenanigans.
A sneak peek of our version 3 layout. Look forward to it soon!