I haven’t gotten any more free tickets to Evermore so far, but I also probably won’t be returning for another week at least, so we’ll see whether the chain of free tickets has finally expired. The tl;dr of my opinion on Evermore’s full open is that it’s good, but if at all possible do not go on a weekend. All theme parks are worse when there’s long lines to major attractions, but Evermore has a story and an atmosphere, and the pacing of the first is absolutely slaughtered by sitting around in a line for thirty minutes between beats and the atmosphere takes a lot of damage when costumed NPCs are drastically outnumbered by uncostumed soccer moms pushing strollers. There’s not really anything Evermore can do about either of these, obviously they can’t require costumes to enter and it would be foolish to set their capacity for an optimal experience rather than a functional experience, so I don’t fault Evermore for either of these things (nor, for the record, do I fault the soccer moms for showing up with strollers), I’m just advising anyone who actually plans on visiting the park to avoid weekends.
The one thing Evermore can do about the massive lines is the one thing that it has: Offered lots of side quests to chase down to help disperse crowds between different locations. The primary quest regarding the Nettletons and subsequently the hunters is absolutely packed but if you want to resolve a spat between Harvey the Ghost and the gatekeeper, the steps on that quest are generally much less crowded and more accessible. There’s another quest about finding the missing pieces to someone’s necklace that I heard about but didn’t have time to actually complete, something about an elixir that Mother Nature/Earth is working on, and possibly more that I haven’t discovered.
These still don’t solve the problem with pace, however: Once night falls and the all ages Magical World of Lore event gives way to the spookier Cursed World of Lore, I went direct to the hunters. The good news is that capturing a vampire requires proving your worth to become a hunter, and that requires actually completing some challenges: You have to get a bullseye at an archery range, go through the top floor of the catacomb and retrieve a special black stone as proof, and then get a tarot reading from the fortune teller, who tonight is a different person from the other fortune teller but still seems pretty cool. This is exactly the kind of actually doing stuff that should be required at this stage in the story, since it helps transition from exploration to investigation, albeit in this case it’s more general preparation, but that might be a better name for that phase anyway. What matters is that we are no longer just learning serving as a messenger between NPCs who are exchanging favors with each other and are instead being required to actually do stuff that other NPCs couldn’t do for themselves.
The downside is that with a thirty minute line at the archery range, even if you get your bullseye with your first three arrows it’d still be a massive understatement to say the pacing grinds to a halt. After my first attempt failed, I wandered off to go find something else to do (thankfully, as I mentioned earlier, there are other quests) and came back when the park was nearer to closing and the lines were short enough that I could try again once every minute or two. During the soft open, the archery range pretty much always had at least one bow open, and I loosed a few dozen arrows with no line at all. I hope that’s because it was Wednesday and not because it was the soft open, because I’d like to shoot some arrows again (quest requirements or not), but I really don’t want to stand in line for it.
An unfortunate side effect of this is that I was entirely out of time to figure out what happens next. I finished the quest, got the card, but it was practically midnight by then, well past time when it would be reasonable to do anything else but wrap up dangling loose ends before going home, and certainly too late to start a whole new quest. What happens next? Is it any good? Are they going to be able to move into a confrontation with the dark forces of the Fey King as effectively as they transitioned from exploration to preparation? No clue. The hour I would’ve spent doing that, I instead spent drinking hot cocoa and watching the Fey King heckle people in the town square. Which, the interactivity of the giant Fey King animatronic is still really cool and it was fun to watch, but there was a shadow of anxiety over the whole thing, that maybe the crowds would never die down and I’d end up wasting the whole night just waiting. Having to put the main plot on pause for a while didn’t just mean I had to find something else to do, it meant I did that something else while worrying that I’d never get a chance to see the plot through to its conclusion.
Couple of side notes:
-In the last post, I mentioned that I got a second Droch Lorcan card for finishing the Nettletons quest, which they also gave out at the Comic Con booth. I was able to exchange that for a new tarot card, which was cool. I also got a card for completing the hunters’ quest and the Harvey/gatekeeper quest. Two of these quests gave me the same card, though, the Hunter. I forget whether it was the Harvey/gatekeeper quest or exchanging the Droch Lorcan I got from the Nettleton quest that got me the duplicate. I also overheard someone discussing getting an Auctioneer card which I never saw. It isn’t clear to me if this was the Nettleton quest reward but they’d run out or if that was the quest reward for one of the quests I haven’t completed. I was told by the barkeep (different guy from Suds this time, but I forget his name) that the tarot cards are limited edition and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever, so maybe the original, unique card for one of the quests had already run out and I got a second Hunter instead?
I understand that since these are physical, printed items for an unknown number of park guests an unknown number of which will complete the quest, having a “while supplies last” approach is inevitable, and certainly for future arcs it is much better to print up a bunch of new cards for the new quests rather than constantly reusing old ones. Each quest should ideally have a unique reward to remember it by, which means both that new arcs with new quests should have new cards but also that each arc should absolutely not be having intentionally limited cards which are planned to run out before everyone gets one to make them more rare, and using copies of other quests’ cards for the reward after the first run out.
-Tickets are no longer split between Magical and Cursed World, with park guests able to buy a single ticket and get into the park from 5 ’till closing, rather than having to leave when Cursed World starts or not show up ’till Magical World ends. I appreciate this mainly because it means I can plan to arrive at 7 PM, a full hour before Cursed World starts, and if I end up thirty minutes late because I don’t live in Pleasant Grove and all unfamiliar street layouts are a labyrinth to me, I still get to be around for the entire three or four hours of Cursed World.
-On the other hand, the security theater regarding masks is getting more strict. They make a point of asserting that they are super serious about this rule. This means that I can only take pictures of myself if I plan for them in advance, to put the mask on and then take it off afterwards. Pictures of people’s faces are regularly used by internet detectives trying to form lynch mobs, whereas I doubt that being able to wear a Halloween mask seriously increases someone’s ability to get away with a crime unless the place is blanketed in security cameras to the point where recording both their face and the act as it happens can be counted on. I don’t see a whole lot of security cameras, but maybe Evermore is secretly a panopticon? It’s not a serious issue for me right away since right now I have no one to take pictures of me anyway, but that is something I’d hoped to do more of as time wore on, and now won’t be able to without making it very easy to find out what I look like. I don’t think there’s any way to make a living off of creative work sold to the internet without making it possible to be doxxed, but I can at least avoid making it easy.
-Speaking of my cosplay, I have decided that going forward, if a prototype completely fails, I need to leave it at home, even if that means dismantling it. I tried to strap some gas tanks to my suspenders and while the tanks came out looking reasonably metallic and copper-y, they were misaligned, the nozzles were clearly spray painted bottle caps and the hose still has no particularly good way to mount to the mask, since I wasn’t able to get my hands on a good needle and thread in time due to the local Jo-Ann’s having gone out of business (I think? The store was dark in the middle of the afternoon) on the day I set aside for gathering up supplies, and as busy as I am I don’t really have time to tack an extra thirty minutes onto my errands. Also, the internet lied to me. Duct tape is not a usable means of sticking two painted plastic bottles together. Plan B is leather belts, and Plan C is hot glue. Still don’t know what to do about those caps.
-Despite the crummy additions to the cosplay and the very clearly communicated standard that all Evermore characters wear Evermore medallions (I have nothing like an Evermore medallion in the cosplay and will avoid anything that might be mistaken for one in bad light for as long as that remains the standard for identifying NPCs), I got mistaken for an Evermore character at least once. They have chess and checker sets in the tavern now, and I sat down in front of a chess game that a child was half-heartedly playing with and began setting it up for a game, expecting him to move on soon. Once I started moving pieces around, he took a much bigger interest and began moving pieces around randomly. I started moving pieces around as well (according to the rules, because I’m a stickler for accuracy, but making no effort to win) until the family moved on. That was kind of fun in an adorable way, but between the costume and my humoring the kid, one of the other park guests must’ve thought I was an NPC and sat down to play. Since playing a game of chess with someone while waiting for the Cursed World to start was my goal all along, I didn’t bother to object. It was a very narrow game (we both knew some fundamentals but neither of us were particularly skilled), but he beat me in the end. What makes me suspect that he thought I was an Evermore NPC is that afterwards he asked if there was a reward for winning. Seeing as he’d given me a really good game of chess, I played along, asked him how much he knew about the dark bloods, and when he said nothing, I offered him the hook to talk to Clara Nettleton. The Nettleton quest has been tweaked since the soft open (or it may just be slightly different on different nights – maybe the guy playing Finley doesn’t like being a mindless zombie every day), so hopefully I didn’t give him a dud quest.
-Soon after this, I offered directions entirely unprompted to people who were talking about the quest, and smacked myself afterward for slipping into GM mode on auto-pilot. Playing along for a giggle when other people mistake me for a character is one thing, but intentionally acting like I work for the park starts to feel more like fraud. Oops.
-Evermore’s haunted houses are pretty well put together. I respect the craft on display. But, also, haunted houses make me really tense. I have a really strong fight response to the aura of dread that haunted houses evoke, which means I measure how effective they are by how badly I want to punch the actors (to be perfectly clear, this kind of reaction is in no way an excuse to actually do that), a problem I normally solve by not going to haunted houses. It occurs to me that so far as bad responses to haunted houses go, “mild aggravation” is relatively not that bad and other park guests might be significantly more spooked. And yet, we’re required to go through not one, but two haunted houses (albeit brief ones) as part of the main plot. Evermore, with its dedication to atmosphere and characters, is well-equipped to run haunted houses and their Halloween arc should clearly have some, but the more I think about it, the more I think these should definitely be reserved for side quests.
-I was also a sarcastic asshole about Harvey’s death. I don’t have an excuse for that one, I just thought of some horse puns on the way over and didn’t want to keep them to myself.