Posted in EverQuest

Is EverQuest II the forgotten MMORPG?

The other day, I was passed along a video that took several (hundred) screenshots of EverQuest II and put them in a nearly four-hour-long video that married relaxing music and ambient noises. The idea, as the video’s author said, was to showcase the game world and put the viewer at ease.

It was as good as any tour that I could think of to show off the MMORPG. I didn’t watch the whole thing, of course — ain’t nobody has four hours to view a glorified screensaver — but I did skip around and see all sorts of sights that I never have before due to only playing the game casually a few times.

As I watched, two thoughts bubbled up in my mind. The first is that EverQuest II is, indeed, very pretty in spots and has its own trademark visual style. It may not be my favorite style, but it’s not ugly and does this fantasy world justice.

The second is that EverQuest II is kind of a very forgotten MMO in 2022. On Reddit, Twitter, blogs… I almost never hear people talking about this title. I’m not saying never, because it does pop up here and there, but even the game’s die hard fans don’t seem to be as vocal as they were even a half-decade ago.

Maybe the title really has established such a loyal and comfortable niche that nobody’s evangelizing EQ2 any more. Daybreak will pump out the yearly expansions on time, people will play them, but nobody — including the studio — will make much of a big deal about it. If I recall correctly, EG7’s investor report from a year or so ago noted that this MMO is upstaged by the original EverQuest in terms of profitability.

I don’t think EverQuest II is the MOST forgotten MMO, as that pile is pretty large at this point. But it is one of the more rare entries that used to be a bigger deal and became almost invisible in the end.

That’s kind of a real shame. Any MMO that survives this long and expands this widely has a wealth of adventures and landmarks to see. I myself will probably never have time to devote to plumbing its depths, although my recent return to RIFT has taught me that there’s great stuff out there worth visiting that’s not in the MMO top fives.

Posted in EverQuest

The Great MMO Culling of 2017


Last night, the lights went out on one of the strangest and perhaps saddest chapters in the EverQuest franchise history, as Daybreak closed up Landmark and evicted however many inhabitants it had to other sandbox worlds (I hear Trove is doing well, if you like the blocky style…). It was triply depressing, because it was not only the end of Landmark, it not only reminded Daybreak players of the failure to produce EverQuest, but it was the latest casualty in what I’m calling the Great MMO Culling of 2017.

MMORPGs, both young and old, shut down all of the time (and new ones start up as well, so there’s a churn in the industry at large). But once in a while we get a tight bunching of shutdowns and it feels like there’s some sort of small-scale apocalypse going on. Within the first three months of 2017, five MMOs are being sunsetted: Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, Super Hero Squad Online, Landmark, and Club Penguin. Now most of these have asterisks beside their name, perhaps noting their diminished populations or, in the case of the last entry, the fact that the game is being retired in order to prepare for the launch of a mobile sequel. But still, five games gone in these first few months with no major launches to counter that streak.

I’m not really down on this. Asheron’s Call was a crying shame, and I think Daybreak’s handling of Landmark as a whole is just shameful, period, but these aren’t tragedies on par with City of Heroes or Star Wars Galaxies. And even though 2017 has yet to counter with expansion and game launches (apart from Conan Exiles’ early access, if you want to toss that in), there are a lot of signs that by the end of the year, we’ll have seen quite a bit:

  • FFXIV: Stormblood and Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind are going to dominate the news — and players’ attention — in June
  • LOTRO and DDO both have expansions on the way with keystone settings
  • Revelation Online should be this spring’s Asian fling MMO once it hits soft launch
  • The Repopulation is coming back under new management
  • Ashes of Creation is really shaping up into a fairly major MMO deserving of attention. Crowfall and Camelot Unchained should both have an active year of development and discussion, even if betas aren’t in the cards for 2017.
  • Plenty of indie crowdfunded MMOs are starting to bloom and will be springing up left and right with early access and launches. Project Gorgon might even launch by the end, fingers crossed.
  • What’s going on with Amazon Games Studio’s various projects? Of note, New World and whatever John Smedley is now heading up both could be worthy of some excitement and coverage.
  • Seriously, there are some interesting and promising titles on the way with potential to be breakout hits, such as Worlds Adrift, Sea of Thieves, Peria Chronicles, and maybe possibly probably Destiny 2.

It’s just a bummer that 2017 has to start out this way. We’re heading into convention season (PAX East, E3) over the next few months, and that’s always a good time to see what surprises may be out there.

I guess I’m personally rooting for a year in which studios operating live MMOs make wise decisions and shore up their games and design direction. If World of Warcraft can keep these meaty patches coming, if LOTRO is getting its second wind, if WildStar can actually survive somehow, that’ll be a win for me. Just… no more shutdowns for a while, OK?

Posted in EverQuest, Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 78: EverQuest


Before World of Warcraft, there was EverQuest — the king of the MMOs and the pioneer of true 3D graphics in virtual worlds. Today the Battle Bards pay homage to this classic game, going back to 1999 to see how the music (in its various formats) hold up. If you were waiting for an episode where Steff spends most of the time screeching in agony, this is it!

Episode 78 show notes

  • Intro (feat. “Main Theme,” “Bard’s Guild,” and “Karana Bridge”)
  • “Kerra Isle”
  • “Plane of Storms”
  • “Plane of Knowledge”
  • “Akanon”
  • “Tower of Soulsek Ro”
  • “Solitude”
  • “Toxxulia Forest”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Mail from Shannon Doyle
  • Jukebox picks (“Bridge Zone” from Sonic SMS, “From Past to Present” from Skyrim, and “Following Stanley” from The Stanley Parable)
  • Overclocked Podcast shout-out
  • Outro

Listen to episode 78 now!

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Online, Elder Scrolls Online, EverQuest, Fallen Earth, RIFT

Five MMOs I’d be playing if I had all of the time in the world (which I don’t)


I don’t care who you are — there ain’t none of us who have the time to do more than either scratch at the surface of a handful of MMOs or really dig deep into one or two of them. Even if you’re so “fortunate” as to have few responsibilities and copious amounts of free time.

Well, unless you’re this lady from NCIS, who apparently figured out how to beat all MMOs:

“You hold the high score in virtually every massively multiplayer online roleplaying game!”

Man, that clip never fails to crack me up.

While I certainly wouldn’t trade my job and family for something as frivolous as having more time just to game, it doesn’t stop me from creating impossible hypothetical situations in my mind such as, “If I had as much gaming time in a day as I wanted, what other MMOs would I play?”

As it stands now, I’m pretty contained into three games: Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, and The Secret World. I feel like I have a great balance going and can dip lightly into each of these to pursue various goals. But if I was to add more to the pile without concern for time, here’s what I might tackle:

Elder Scrolls Online

This is probably just because ESO has had a good run of news lately, but I’ll admit to always being attracted to/impressed by MMOs that have fleshed out content offerings, have a thriving community, and are showing signs of future growth. ESO has all of these in spades, and perhaps if I had gobs of time, I could end up liking this game as much as any other MMO. My one and only foray into it was rough and unimpressive, but first impressions aren’t always spot-on.

Fallen Earth

Yeah, Fallen Earth probably doesn’t have many years ahead of it or great amounts of future content, but it’s pretty much the best post-apocalyptic MMO out there and one that I had a great time playing. It’s also a total time gobbler, so that’s kept me from heading back into it. I just miss riding my horse across the irradiated wild west and blasting mutated hermit crabs with my shotgun.

Dungeons and Dragons Online

It’s been a very long time since I played this regularly, but I still haven’t come across an MMO that’s quite like this one. The focus on dungeon runs, the dual campaigns, the free-form character creation, the dungeon master, the passionate community… these are all speak in favor of DDO’s worth. And Turbine keeps adding onto it, too. Probably more content in that game right now than I could get out of it in a couple of years of hardcore playing.

EverQuest 2

I and all of the fortune tellers and industry analysts in the world couldn’t tell you what Daybreak has in store for the EverQuest franchise at this point (if anything). The premature demise of EverQuest Next is still rippling out across the MMO community, sending the impression that the lineage of EverQuest has come to a sad end with Landmark.

Yet there’s still EverQuest 2 and it’s still getting expansions and some dev love. This has always been one of those MMOs that I feel that, in a parallel universe, I would be totally into. It certainly checks all of the boxes of my wish list, has a vibrant playerbase, and is so packed with content at this point that it’s almost intimidating to consider playing. Which is probably why I don’t.


I’ve always seen RIFT as a “safety” MMO. If I’m disillusioned or burned out on whatever I’m playing, there’s always RIFT to go back to. Good comfort gaming: lots of features, regular updates, and that sweet, sweet soul system. I think back to the first year or two of playing this game and trigger all sorts of nostalgic love for the fun I had in the game. I never stick around long when I do go back, but I usually have a great time.

So what about you? If time wasn’t a restrictive factor, what additional games would you be playing (if anything)?

Posted in EverQuest

EverQuest Next heartbreak and grappling with the new future of MMOs


I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.

There’s a weird running… thing with Bio Break that major stuff seems to go down whenever I take off for a break. Last year during my youth group winter retreat, SOE got sold off by Sony and Massively-that-was got canned. This past weekend was this year’s retreat, so as I was driving off to camp for two days, WildStar’s studio got gutted and Daybreak decided that it didn’t really want to be in the MMO business any longer by canning EverQuest Next.

Again, I’m sorry. And that WildStar stuff, I’m going to have to save that for another day. I haven’t really had a lot of time to process any of this, but there’s no chance that I wasn’t going to comment on EQN.

The cynic or even the mildly attentive observer would have said that the writing was on the wall since SOE’s sale and transformation into Daybreak. We’ve spent the last year watching Daybreak and wondering what was going to result as the studio laid people off, restructured, and got under new ownership. Now the picture is coming in clearer, and it’s not pretty. We see a picture of a studio that’s been aggressively paring down its library, resisting adding new titles, scaling back communication, and making questionable moves, such as in the case of H1Z1’s split into two lesser properties. But people — myself included — had been holding out hope that in the background, devs were furiously working on EverQuest Next and this might be the year we’d see it explode into the spotlight.

Maybe there was very little to hang that hope on — just a couple of throwaway quotes from Daybreak reps, Landmark’s continued existence, and some assurances from various industry insiders that work was still being done on it. But that hope was important because this was really the only major traditional, full-featured MMO left in development. Everything else is either skewing smaller, more PvP (such as Crowfall), or straddling other genres. And heck, what we had heard about EQN from SOE Live years ago got me excited about its prospects. I think I said at the time that this might be the first EverQuest game that I’d get in on the ground floor.

But that hope is now gone. I don’t have a clue what’s going on behind the scenes at Daybreak, but I can say that I am past caring about that company. Landmark is — and I apologize if you are a fan of it — an incredibly poor consolation prize to the faithful and those interested in the next step of the EverQuest franchise. Daybreak shot itself in both feet this past weekend and undoubtedly wasted countless hours and resources by scrapping this game.

I am just as personally crushed as I was with Blizzard’s Titan announcement and the whole Project Copernicus fiasco. The potential, the possibilities, the what-ifs… and never-will-bes. As a serious fan of MMOs, it’s downright painful to have to close the chapter on my interest in a game that could have been a contender. I am deeply disappointed with Daybreak and have no reason to root that studio on in anything it’s doing. And I — like probably many of you — am left feeling more than a little down about the future of the industry.

Accept or deny it, having major tentpole MMOs in development has been a big part of the fun of being an MMO fan since… the mid-90s? People were juiced about Ultima Online back then and the stream of ambitious titles hasn’t let up since. Even if the games didn’t make it out the door (Middle-earth Online, True Fantasy Live, Ultima X) there was always a lot of projects on the horizon. Now it feels — a feeling which may not reflect the accurate reality — that we’ve entered into an era seemingly empty of that sort of thing.

It’s not the end of the world or even the MMO industry, of course. It’s not as though we lack games to play right now, nor that current live games are lacking in continuing development, patches, expansions, events, and such. Maybe it is a time to stop looking forward and instead looking around at what we have.

And it’s not that EverQuest Next was the only MMO (or MMOish title) in development; there’s lots coming of various sizes and approaches, from Star Citizen to Crowfall to Shroud of the Avatar to Brad McQuaid’s VisionQuest to scads of imports. I’m actually really heartened by the enthusiasm and embrace of the big three games we’ve gotten this spring (Blade & Soul, Black Desert, and The Division), which tells me that there’s still a lot of interest out there in checking out new properties and seeing the industry continue to roll out additional titles.

Maybe we’re in a contracting period that will one day see the birth of a new — and changed — wave of MMOs. I simply hate seeing the shell of one of the MMO industry’s leaders roll over and play dead on a potentially great game instead of standing up and fighting.

Posted in EverQuest, Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 46: EverQuest II’s Laura Karpman

lauraIt’s been 10 incredible years since EverQuest II launched and players not only stepped into this version of Norrath but first heard the tunes of composer Laura Karpman. Join the Battle Bards for a special interview with Laura, who knows just so, so, so much more about music than the rest of us.

We also had several audio glitches in this cast, so bear with us!

Episode 46 show notes

  • Intro
  • Interview with composer Laura Karpman featuring the following EverQuest II tracks:
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Antonica”
  • “Commonlands”
  • “Freeport”
  • “Lavastorm”
  • “Tower of the Drafling”
  • “Isle of Refuge”
  • “Thundering Steppes”
  • “Qeynos”
  • “Nectulos”
  • “Nektropos Castle”
  • “Clefts of Rujark”
  • “Poet’s Palace”
  • “Silent City”
  • Outro

Listen to episode 46 now!