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!

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)?

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.

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!