At the end of every year and the beginning of a new one, many people kick back and review what went well and what went wrong. We certainly got a taste of something that went wrong last week, so let's switch gears and focus on the positive! For my one-year anniversary as a writer of this column (I took over this piece exactly one year ago this week), I felt it was particularly appropriate to reflect back on the previous year, highlighting the best moments of The Tattered Notebook.
Actually deciding on only 10 articles to fill out my favorites turned out to be more difficult than I thought. There we were plenty of useful guides, videos, holiday celebrations, and even a peek at a certain upcoming game. But when forced to choose, these particular moments all stand out. See if my picks coincide with yours!
Although the topic itself (giving a few tips and hints to players who may be returning to the game) is certainly useful, this particular column starts the top 10 list simply for the fact that it is my first ever Tattered Notebook entry! As a big fan of EverQuest II, I think it is awesome to be able to write about a game I love to play (not to mention get paid for doing so!). I never thought it possible that this gem would land in my lap, and through a wondrous confluence of events I was able to start doing so by trading off with my co-columnist Jef Reahard. Of course, I have since stolen the entire column away from him... *evil grin*
9. Rebirth as Norrathian Notebook
Following in those footsteps, we refocused the column from EverQuest II to all things EverQuest. While maybe not as newsworthy as most other topics, this is one of my favorites of 2013 because it highlights the fact that the franchise is so much more than just a game or two. The franchise is, in fact, quite significant; researching for that piece I learned just how much broader the scope of EQ-dom runs! EQ was not a one-hit wonder that will fade into obscurity but the foundation of a growing empire that branches out into so many different areas, not to mention aims to help redefine MMOs.
This declaration pretty well sums up my feelings in EverQuest II: There truly is too much for me to do. I love this because it highlights that even though EQII is a themepark game, there is such a wide variety of activities that all sorts of players can delve in and enjoy. It also emphasizes that players will not be able to just blow through all content and run out of things to do in short order; there's plenty to keep people occupied for a long, long time. In fact, even as an eight-year veteran (not counting a sabbatical), I am still nowhere near completing my to-do list. It doesn't help that new prestige houses keep getting introduced and I am a decorating nut!
7. Leveling your way
Some themepark games have a very specific path players must follow as they level up. Even EQII had fewer choices back when it got started. Now, however, the middle child of the franchise has an abundance of paths you can meander, choosing what you experience and where. If more games would grasp this concept, I'd be delighted! I don't want to feel forced to be in one place -- I want to have some agency in how I spend my gaming time. And alternative leveling paths is a perfect way to achieve that.
This. The community of a game is so important, and this piece gives a glimpse of just how spectacular the EQII community is. From banding together to fulfill the dreams of an ill child to outpourings of generosity in Pay It Forward events, players show the heart that binds them together in Norrath. And Ribbitribbit Day is a new annual celebration commemorating that selfless display of goodwill.
5. EQII's ninth year
Even with the new titles coming out in the franchise, EverQuest II isn't slowing down, and it certainly is not on the way to its grave. One peek at the ninth anniversary piece proves that! A quick synopsis of the changes and all the additional content that was introduced -- the repeal of free-to-play restrictions, the major updates to the signature story, Character Achievement templates, and more organizational tools, just to name a few -- gives a pretty clear picture that the game is going strong. And how can that not be a great thing?
For the longest time we suffered through a lack of information about the ever-so-secret EverQuest Next. Then, out of nowhere we got the announcement that one of the coolest ideas in gaming (actually intelligent artificial intelligence) was headed to the game! Although we didn't have many specifics on the role Storybricks would play in EQN, it wasn't hard to put two and two together and revel in the idea of NPCs living, breathing, and interacting with you personally in Norrath.
3. Welcome to EQII -- enjoy your level 85!
Two things about this entry deserve note, and both involve allowing all players the chance to experience the latest signature story lines throughout the Velious lands. One, all players could now actually get there as the Destiny of Velious expansion became bundled into the game for free. Two, players could actually participate in the level-appropriate content there thanks to the ability to get level 85 characters (even free for a limited time!). Even though I am not a fan of powerleveling, I think this was implemented in such a way that players could get a feel for the character without getting too overwhelmed. And it certainly seemed to help bring more players.
2. The things you hear at SOE Live
How could SOE Live not be on the list of best things in the year? Pretty much everything about that weekend is fun, but the best part is the little quips and quotes, often off the cuff, that are uttered throughout the con. The remarks that devs let slip out when speaking directly with fans truly are the highlight of the trip. Oh, and things like Nagafen hats! Who doesn't love a good Naggy hat?
You saw this one coming, didn't you? To a die-hard sandbox aficionado, learning that EverQuest Next would be a sandbox was just about the pinnacle of the year! We heard about how Storybricks was interwoven into EQN, a truly living story that moves on as rally calls are completed, personalizing your own skill sets, and physically affecting your environment with a voxel-based world. Mind. Blown.
But even more than that...
Bonus: Getting my hands-on EQNL
Though it wasn't technically a Tattered Notebook entry (the article's release date didn't coincide with Tattered's) , this one definitely wins out for the best of the year! What else can I say but OH YEAH I got to play EQN Landmark! And it was awesome. Then I got to share that experience with all of you. I really had a blast experiencing the building tools for myself, and I would have stayed there for hours on end if they hadn't kicked me out. I seriously can't wait to dive back in, and I am even more excited to see what our creative community members come up with once they get their hands on these tools. At least the wait won't be too much longer, right?
The EverQuest realm is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores the franchise's nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every Saturday, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!