Evermore: Lore 2022

I covered the opening of Evermore (a LARP-focused theme park with no rides but lots of fully costumed actors playing out their roles) pretty extensively. My professional GMing business was just starting to take off during their opening season in Autumn 2018, and while my schedule was getting more and more tight, by pure coincidence I wound up with an evening open when Evermore was running, and Evermore was an enchanting new concept that I wanted to explore more of.

While Evermore opened strong, however, their Autumn 2018 season ended weak. It had two basic categories of problem. The first were the organizational issues: Actors would hand out hooks for quests that were no longer available because the season plot had moved past them and would give contradictory information as to whether a certain plot beat had been reached or even existed.

The second was pacing issues. You generally want a plot to move through setup, buildup, and climax, but Evermore’s first season (and several after) struggled with the climax. Evermore has the setup nailed down: You enter the park, interact with characters, and start to get an idea of what’s going on. Back in Autumn 2018, they assembled the buildup as they went along, figuring out faction quests for the monster-hunting Blackhearts and the Knightly defenders of Evermore that had you go through a brief haunted house and shoot some arrows at an archery range and such, with the idea that this would prepare you for a final confrontation with the evils of the dark blood plague.

That never happened. Evermore completely dropped the ball on climax, and generally had difficulty tying off its plot threads. There was an early quest line, for example, where you talked to vampires to see how they were immune to the dark blood curse. Turns out it’s something to do with their venom, but consuming it would turn the drinker into a vampire as well. As I said in 2018: “[T]heir vampire venom protects them, but would also turn anyone who drinks it into a vampire. Which, like, is immortality included in that deal? These are pretty ugly nosferatu vampires and I don’t know if it’s possible for them to sustain themselves without killing their victims, but I’m interested in subscribing to their newsletter.” But what 2018 Chamomile did not know is that this never goes anywhere. The vampires never appear in the story again, whether as a potential source of a cure or an antagonist or anything. By the end, it’s not even clear what their opinion on the Fey King is. Do they think of him as an ally? A rival? Are they apathetic? An actor might’ve been briefed with a response or improvised something if I’d asked, but it never comes up. Lots of setting elements are like this. The skeletal soldiers marching around are never relevant to anything, nor the goblins and their forge, despite some early indications that helping the goblins get to their forge and produce weapons would be a plot beat.

And worst of all, this lack of climax was scarcely better in the main plot. The season climax was carried out entirely in vignettes performed at various stages throughout the park over the course of the final few nights, without the quests completed by the worldwalkers contributing much of anything. The closest thing to a plot beat that seemed informed at all by the quests is when the audience was told that the little “gold” nuggets they’d been collecting were magical and would help close the portal to Scarytown, which would’ve been sloppy but adequate except that the importance of stockpiling the gold hadn’t been communicated for 95% of the season so it was totally possible to show up to that scene with no gold in hand because you spent it all on dollar store trinkets which allegedly have magical powers (which is a pretty cool goldsink in the typical situation where you actually want to sink gold – unfortunately, Evermore’s Autumn 2018 season was not the typical situation). No one’s counting up how much gold is there and altering the course of the scene in response, of course, but it’s possible that even if you meet the park halfway on the logistics and agree to pretend that the gold you carried to the scene contributed to the outcome, it’s still possible to show up without any gold because you weren’t told it was important until it was too late.

As much as Evermore had problems with keeping actors on the same page regarding what stage of the plot we’re supposed to be on, the biggest problem to solve going forward was easily going to be the lack of any climax to the player’s personal plotline. While obviously you cannot personally defeat the villain because there are like ten thousand other park guests who need to be served a satisfying plot and only one villain, you could have something like a haunted house with a Shiny Rock in the middle that you’re only allowed to enter if you’ve completed the quests to prove your worth and join the Blackheart Hunters/Knights of Evermore/Witches’ Coven/Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything/whatever, and then you give the Shiny Rock to a quest NPC, while behind the scenes as soon as someone leaves the room with the Shiny Rock one of the actors replaces it with an identical Shiny Rock, and the quest NPC who receives the Shiny Rock hands a sack full of them to someone to restock the haunted house every twenty minutes, but if you suspend your disbelief you just gave the NPC the Shiny Rock. When they’re confronting the big villain in the climactic performance and pull out the Shiny Rock and the villain is all “oh, no! The Shiny Rock! I am slain!” then you’ll feel like you were a key part of making this happen.

Autumn 2019 was pretty much entirely a retread of Autumn 2018, which had me seriously concerned about whether the park was even worth coming back to if each season was just going to be the same thing but with new actors and a slightly different park layout, and then everything changed when coronavirus attacked. I had a trip to New Orleans dropped in my lap for Halloween 2021, so any Evermore plans were canceled in favor of that, but now in 2022 I’m checking back in. How has Evermore’s Autumn season – their biggest and most popular – evolved since their 2018 opening?

My flippant suggestions about getting chased through the woods by a monster to accomplish some kind of Plot Objective was almost literally done, which I have chosen to interpret as Evermore’s writers and directors reading my blog and using it as a checklist. Still, while the construction of the haunt is perfect for the purposes of providing a climax (I, personally, would’ve preferred a bigger emphasis on building an atmosphere of dread and less on jumpscares, but jumpscares are an industry standard and you break from those at your peril), its placement in the plot is wrong for it. The haunt is something you pay extra to get into, and none of the other quests particularly point you towards it. I went around Evermore doing setup-y things asking about what was going on hereabouts and hearing that there were ghosts and vampires in town, and that the mayor was some kind of doctor fellow, then I went around doing faction quests and personal favors beating up on other park guests with foam swords and speaking with ghosts and spying on witches, and then I went and did the haunt. Logistically, everything for a proper setup, buildup, and climax was there.

The problem is that one didn’t actually lead to the other. I went through a haunt and pushed some buttons to drop some cages on specimens for the doctor, and it was by far the most intense haunt that Evermore’s ever put on (except maybe the 2021 season, a Halloween trip to New Orleans fell into my lap that year so I didn’t make it back to Evermore), but this didn’t come as the climax to the earlier buildup, nor for that matter did the buildup particularly follow on from the setup.

It’s possible that the problem here is with me: Prior experience with Evermore has taught me both that it’s very hard to squeeze everything I want to do into one night, so I should hurry, and also that there’s usually a couple of factions offering quests that give you a decent look at the plot of the current season, so I figured out what factions were around and went and talked to them. Maybe the faction quests have been demoted to side quests and that’s why the main plot leading up to the haunt was barely even referenced. Even in this case, though, when I first came into Evermore I introduced myself and my brother (who was visiting with me) to a plot relevant NPC and asked if there was anything quest-ly that needed doing, and I did not get any clear directions to an on-ramp to the main plot. The main plot, being main, should either be thrust upon you by just about any NPC you ask about it, or else it should have so many on-ramps that you’ll stumble across one by blind luck.

And it’s also possible that the buildup giving context to why the haunt is important is locked entirely in earlier nights of the season, in which case tying the pace of a player’s plot arc to the park’s in this way is bad for several reasons. Firstly, you don’t want a player walking from their regular boring life into instant climax because it’s the fifth time they’ve been to Evermore this season so the new last-week-of-October climax content is the only new stuff to see. Second, some people can only come one or two nights a season and still want a complete story.

Also worth noting that the haunt costs extra. Without seeing the park’s financial records personally, I couldn’t say for sure how necessary this is, but as a separate experience not particularly tied to the park’s main plot, that’s not really objectionable either way. There’s plenty to do in the park with a regular ticket, you won’t be going home early because the park has run out of content, nor are you going to be given a bunch of quests that build up to the haunt and then pumped for an extra $10 to get in. But if the haunt is going to be a separate premium experience with an additional cost and not your climax, then the park still needs a separate climax or else it has the same pacing problems as always.

Evermore’s Election

After my total lack of coverage for Evermore’s Aurora and subsequent Mythos seasons, someone might reasonably conclude that I had sworn off the park. But, no. Although I found the conclusion to Evermore’s inaugural Lore season to be lackluster, it didn’t actually engage in some of the really objectionable behavior I feared it might. The champion of Evermore turned out to mostly be a nominal position, and while I still think that contest was ill-conceived, there wasn’t a true finale reserved for a special elite, the true finale just turned out to kind of suck. It was a perfectly fine story, really, it just didn’t require the participation of the park guests very much at all, to the point where it’s not clear why we bothered showing up.

In any case, while that was disappointing, it wasn’t so disappointing that I wasn’t willing to give the park another go. Even if Evermore’s plot is perpetually kind of aimless and just sort of happens around you, it’s still a fun place to be.

It’s just that Evermore keeps shutting down on weekdays, and my professional GMing schedule means I have only a few very specific evenings available, and which evenings those are is subject entirely to what’s convenient to my current set of clients. When Evermore was open six nights out of seven, I had really good odds that one of my two essentially-random nights off would land on an open night.  Now that it’s down to just three, my odds aren’t so great, especially since I’m trying to avoid weekends. I got to Aurora exactly once during the whole season, and while I’ve managed two visits to Mythos and have a third lined up, that’s mainly because my younger brother is finally back from Sokovia and I’m willing to cancel one of my professional games for one night in order to visit the park with him before he leaves again.

As part of the current Mythos plot arc, though, Evermore is having an election. Neat! But this puts Evermore in a sticky position. On the one hand, election runners assert that the “citizens of Evermore” vote in addition to worldwalkers. This might just be for verisimilitude, because, really, it’s weird that worldwalkers even get to vote when we only visit on weekends. It could also indicate that the writers plan to use the votes of the NPC citizens to rig the election in favor of either one of a small handful of specific candidates from amongst the ten or even just one candidate specifically. This is totally reasonable, because unlike in a single-player video game, no one person could have a significant impact on the election anyway, so whether the election is being steered by the masses or by the writers makes almost no difference to the experience of any individual park-goer. It’s not like these people are setting our real life healthcare policies or anything, so it’s not like the actual purpose of an election – to guard against tyranny – is at all applicable.

The problem is, by saying that the votes of worldwalkers are being counted, the writers of Evermore could potentially paint themselves into a corner where the worldwalkers are 1) clearly more numerous (we are) and 2) strongly favor a candidate the writers want to defeat. This makes the election feel rigged. But on the other hand, if the writers say that the worldwalkers can’t vote because, y’know, we don’t live here, then the election feels like a pointless sideshow that isn’t really our problem. The only way to have a “we’re having an election” plot without actually turning over a major plot point to the random choices of the playerbase is to land on one of these two imperfect solutions: Either pretend you’re counting player votes but then don’t, or else tell the players up front that the whole election is playing out on autopilot.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the election totally is being used to determine the next mayor of Evermore by the actual park-goers, the votes of the actual inhabitants of Evermore are being apportioned exactly in proportion to how the worldwalkers vote, and the writers are ready to incorporate Mayor Seftis the mildly psychotic executioner into next season’s plot if it comes to that (it didn’t, Seftis dropped out of the race early, but if the election is actually legit, it could’ve).

Evermore: The Finale That Really, Actually Wasn’t

Evermore claims that it’s big finale would happen on November 3rd. Some of its fanboys passed that claim on to me. I wound up going to Evermore on November 3rd because I figured, hey, it may be Saturday and it will no doubt be way too crowded, but if they do this right I will only need to complete one quest, and if they do it wrong I will not actually have anything to do, so the long lines won’t matter. They did it wrong.

The story of Evermore has been weirdly aimless until now. Plenty of people have helped the Nettletons in the Auctioneer quest and subsequently joined the hunters in the Hunter quest (a decent chunk have additionally completed the other two tarot quests, but they’re more like side quests with little connection to the main plot). By the time I’d got to the end at Halloween I actually assumed that the Fey King plot was going to be multi-arc, to get more use out of that giant animatronic (though I questioned how well he’d stand up to the snow), since the quests we’d completed showed no signs of even getting close to completing it. Lantern bearer Faldo/Falda claimed the Fey King’s true form was out in the woods somewhere and only possessed the animatronic from time to time (a reasonably clever way of explaining why that animatronic is sometimes dormant), early stages of the Nettleton quest (possibly later ones, too?) asserted that Finley had been infected from the woods, and the hunters stated they didn’t let worldwalkers into the woods because it wasn’t safe. It all seemed to be building up to a confrontation in the woods with the source of the plague, if not with the Fey King himself.

That never happened. Really, in the end, we may as well have not even shown up for all that worldwalkers contributed to the actual fight against the Fey King. We ran errands for the Nettletons and Thurgood, which was not a bad way to introduce the problem, but was nothing they couldn’t have done for themselves. I don’t mean in the “I refuse to be immersed” “are we really the most qualified hunters because we spent thirty minutes practicing archery to get one bullseye, I mean, come on” sense, but rather in the sense that the quest literally only required us to deliver items from one to the other. Towards the beginning it at least involved interrogating some vampires in a mausoleum that was allegedly dangerous, but later stages of the quest didn’t even involve that. I did more good for Evermore running fake anti-hex talismans to Duffy because the courage was in him all along than I did in any of the tarot quests.

What did happen was that Wyn Weaver and Wiccam put aside their differences to close the portal – something they could apparently have done just whenever and waited around out of nothing but dislike for one another – but trapped Clara Nettleton on the other side. She’d run in because she was afraid of infecting her new fiance, the barkeep Suds, and they sealed it up behind her. The next day, Thurgood finished his cure, so, not spectacular long term planning skills on Clara’s part. Also, Mother Nature/Mother Earth/Shiri confronted the Fey King in the town square and healed him. I mean, he’s still a giant evil-looking animatronic and not a regular looking fairy, but he stopped being a colossal jerk to everyone. Also, there’s a handful of hints that there are greater evils out in the forest, which will presumably make trouble come December.

I have not directly spoken with any of the champions, however it does appear as though their participation mainly amounted to having front row seats to events that nevertheless played out pretty much completely without their involvement. They stood on stage instead of off to the side, but they were still just watching events play out. I wasn’t there for the earliest bits of the night, however (a quick nap ended with me sleeping through my alarm for over an hour, which gives you an idea of how much extra work I’m doing right now), so the exclusive champion quest may actually have been vital to getting Wiccam and Wyn Weaver to reconcile and close that portal. Even that may or may not have actually been a huge deal. The direction the plot was going earlier was towards the darkness in the forest, where Finely was infected, where the hunters wouldn’t let you in unless you were qualified (and then, psyche, not even then). If the champions got an additional side quest involving Wyn Weaver and Wiccam that still ultimately comes down to just asking the two to kiss and make up, then eh, whatever, that wouldn’t be a big deal, if everyone else got to have their moment where they go into the woods, get chased by a monster, and escape by the skin of their teeth with the final ingredient needed to make the cure (or whatever). If that’s the only conclusion that anyone ever got, then what the Hell, why would you give the build up to that climax to everyone, hold the climax hostage to a contest, and then tell everyone else to come back for the denouement?

The lack of a resolution has been a frequent complaint amongst park guests, frequent enough that I’ve overheard people talking about it on multiple occasions just while wandering around. Now, maybe watching a two minute stage play in which the problem gets resolved without our help ever having been significant is enough for some people, but firstly, I wouldn’t be sure about that, people definitely noticed that the plot had no particular resolution and became aimless after the hunter quest, so betting on the Evermore audience not to notice failures of craft has not been the winning move so far.

And secondly, even if having the conclusion to your allegedly interactive, immersive plot be an uninteractive vignette played out on a stage turns out to be good enough for most people, most people did not actually get that. I was in Evermore when this happened, there were, like, two or three hundred people here for the finale (by which I mean the specific finale events – there were very likely more total guests for that day), but the park brings in 1,000+ on Saturdays alone, with similar numbers on Friday and smaller but still significant populations on weekdays. Even assuming the Saturday crowd is the exact same people coming back weekly every single time, this Saturday’s crowd was not appreciably bigger than the last Saturday I went. It may have even been smaller. This finale did not draw in a whole lot of people like me who usually visit on other days. Speaking personally, even if there had been some kind of climactic quest available today, it still would’ve been a little disappointing, because all of my actual friends in Evermore have been replaced by mysterious dopplegangers. The Wednesday cast isn’t here, the Saturday cast is, and I have to start every conversation with a reminder to the actors that our characters know each other, despite the fact that many of them have never seen me before and most of the exceptions haven’t seen me since preview night clear back on September 8th.

Evermore’s pace grinds to a halt halfway through its story, not simply because there are villains left to defeat (personally defeating the Fey King is impossible simply on the grounds that it can only happen once), but because there is never any climax, nor really any point at which the worldwalkers do something that the townspeople of Evermore couldn’t have done for themselves. I’m entirely willing to meet the park halfway on this kind of thing, and just assume for the sake of suspension of disbelief that becoming a hunter/knight really was an important pre-requisite to entering some kind of haunted house with a plot coupon hiding in the middle, even if the skills tested for and oaths sworn never actually come up. That didn’t actually happen, though. The plot grinds to a halt right before the climax, never resumes, and then Evermore solves its issues on its own initiative. Why did I even show up?

Evermore: The Finale That Wasn’t

As I write this, there are two minutes in Halloween left here in Utah, and I’ve just got back from Evermore for my fifth visit. The long and short of it is that I have fully plumbed the depths of what Evermore has to offer and feel like I have a very good idea of what’s going on and how this park works. And how it works it that there just isn’t any kind of finale, not even on Halloween. There was live music and fire dancers and lots of guests in costume, so it’s not like it was a completely typical night, but what there wasn’t was any kind of confrontation phase of the plot. The NPCs seem to be resolving this whole “dark blood” thing almost entirely of their own initiative, making steady progress on a cure with no more assistance from the players past running errands back and forth between the Nettletons and Diet Thurgood the alchemist. To whatever extent there is a climax, it’s gonna be for ten people:

Evermore Champion Page

This here is the page explaining that the exclusive “Champion’s quest” – presumably the actual finale to Evermore’s first arc – is going to be reserved for at best ten people (assuming all ten finalists get to go) and determined based on winning a goddamn social media popularity contest. The “champion of Evermore” is the person whose shallow desire to provoke envy from others drives them most fervently to create effective clickbait – and if it’s not, then that’s because by happy accident the sorting process failed to deliver results. Evermore’s reach might be too limited for Darwinian selection to kick in – or maybe not.

On the bright side, I did come away with some sweet loot:


Continue reading “Evermore: The Finale That Wasn’t”

Evermore: Sluggish, Confused, and Contrary

Yeah, that’s what everyone’s been waiting for, right? More Evermore posts. Longtime readers will be pleased to know that Threadbare posts are resuming tomorrow, it just so happens that my schedule freed up enough for real blog posts again just in time for a Friday post.

Fans of nitpicking will be pleased to know that Evermore is beginning to manifest some flaws, however. Three in particular. First, Evermore is sluggish. I mentioned last time that I’d just barely managed to get to the end of the hunter leg of their Halloween plot. I turned up today, showed Killian my hunter card (new actor on this one, I hope it’s because vital characters have different actors on different nights and not because they’re seeing actor turnover within the space of a single plot arc), and asked what to do next. She had nothing to give me. The plot dead ends there. I was okay with this during the soft open, but halfway through the entire arc the actual ending still isn’t available? The idea here seems to be that the plot advances week by week or maybe even day by day, and you have to come to Evermore very regularly to get each moment. But there’s not actually a whole lot more to do if you go multiple times, and people who visit early on during an arc and aren’t able to return until it’s over just never get to see how that arc finishes.

Evermore is also confused. The actors do not appear to be properly briefed on what the current plot is at all. I was receiving quest hooks for finding black stones to bring to Thurgood the alchemist (who I’m now confident actually is the dual-personality alchemist I met on preview night, but when I met him on other nights, he was played by a different actor – I don’t fault Evermore for this, retaining the same actor every night, six days a week, for every single role would very possibly run the actors into the ground). The problem is, that plot hook is no longer a thing. The Nettletons already have a supply of those black rocks, which they’re grinding up into little bottles of powder and distributing to anyone who asks about it to bring it to the witch Wyn Weaver (pronounced “when weaver,” I only know how to spell it because “Wyn Weaver’s cookies” show up on the food stand menus – they’re pretty good, too, but the hot chocolate is the real selling point when it comes to Evermore food).

Not only that, but apparently the Mother Nature/Mother Earth dichotomy is not a result of a divide between pre- and post-corruption, but instead everyone is just referring to her exclusively as Mother Nature, and reacted with bemused surprise at the notion that she was ever called Mother Earth. One of the off-duty actors even reacted with surprise that Mother Nature’s name was known to park guests at all, having apparently been told that it was being kept secret. This is what makes Evermore contrary. Not only do the actors not seem to be properly briefed on the current stage of the plot, they seem to be being given information that’s flat-out false. I met Mother Nature, identified by that name, during the soft open. That actor who was told she’s a secret wasn’t behind the current stage of the plot, they had been given information that was never true. I suspect there was an attempt to back up and hide Mother Nature’s identity (possibly why she switched to Mother Earth), which they later decided was infeasible so they walked it back. Certainly that would square with Mother Earth being reluctant to admit that she had previously been known as Mother Nature when I talked to her under that name during my first visit after the full opening, and then actors being unaware that she had ever had that name.

I did still buy tickets for Halloween, which will hopefully not be too horribly crowded. My last visit was on a Wednesday, and the more manageable crowds have reaffirmed my “don’t go on weekends” stance. Unfortunately, Wednesday and Saturday are the only evenings I have available, and next Wednesday is Samhain, which means I just have to hope that Evermore isn’t too crowded for the holiday.

There’s still a plot to wrap up here, even if it did advance hardly at all. Many side quests now give out little “gold” (actually pyrite, I’m pretty sure) nuggets, and if you hand enough of that gold into the acolytes, they’ll tell you that gold is magic and had something to do with the opening of the portals, and Wiccam and his assistant William can both tell you more. Wiccam’s not here, so William it is, but psyche, just kidding, William doesn’t know jack. Maybe Wiccam doesn’t either and the acolytes just weren’t informed that the next leg of the plot doesn’t exist yet. Hopefully my efforts to actually get to the end of the Evermore plot this Halloween won’t be thwarted by either heavy crowds or by the plot not actually existing.

Evermore: For Real Open

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.

Continue reading “Evermore: For Real Open”

Evermore: Soft Open

It’s never a good sign when a company starts giving you free stuff to apologize for the quality of an event you have tickets for but haven’t actually been to. That’s the position I was in last Wednesday, having woken up to an email in which Evermore offered me a free ticket to the hard open because I had “bought” a ticket to the soft open, which I got for free when I actually bought a ticket to the preview night back on September 8th. I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep chaining these free tickets along? Are they going to be so embarrassed about the barely-finished state of the opening proper that they’ll give me free tickets for Halloween, and then be so embarrassed by that that they’ll give me free tickets to their winter arc, too? Is this going to end up with me just getting a lifetime subscription to the park because I bought a Comic-Con preview ticket?

Personally, I wasn’t disappointed with the soft open, but I can see why other people would be, especially people who went on the first day, when it was likely even more unfinished than when I got there. Unfinished sections of the park were roped off with uncostumed staff standing there to make sure no park guests accidentally (or maliciously) wander off into the construction zones and the plot stops dead in its tracks halfway through because the goblin forge isn’t finished yet, so they just awkwardly tell you they’re locked out and please come back next week when we can get on with the plot. I didn’t reach that point until the park was near closing time anyway, but then, I’m not super concerned with getting through the story as fast as possible. I take my time talking to characters and other park guests (“worldwalkers,” in the parlance of the park’s lore), and am further slowed by frequent pauses where I try to figure out something to say without breaking character. Also, on at least one occasion I was slowed a bit by being mistaken for an NPC and people asked me for plot threads which, since it was late in the night, I was actually able to provide. So far as I know, those people still think I work for Evermore. In any case, people who are more mission focused and less awkward can probably get through significantly faster and hit that end of the plot “sorry, come back next week” point sooner.

One thing Evermore has significantly improved upon since the preview night was how eagerly the plot was thrust upon me. That one fellow who asked me to slay monsters back on preview night? This time, he directed me straight to Clara Nettleton, who is now the starting point for the plot, so obviously so that I don’t even feel like it’s spoilers to mention as much. Further story spoilers are going below the break, so if you’re reading this because you actually want to go to Evermore during the current plot arc (ends November 8th), now might be the time to stop.

Continue reading “Evermore: Soft Open”

Evermore: Preview Night

As of the writing (and slightly more so as of the posting), Evermore has been soft open for several days. The proper and official opening is coming September 29th, and the first arc of the story will run until November 8th. I got into the sneak preview at Comic-Con clear back on September 8th, and as part of the bundle for buying that ticket, I also got a free ticket that I’ll be using Wednesday, September 28th, to check out the soft open.

So what is Evermore? Evermore is a theme park unlike any other, by which I do not mean “so much better than Disneyland that it deserves a category of its own,” but rather “so different from Disneyland that if you think of it as being like Disneyland you’ll get it all wrong.” If you have to pick between going to Evermore or going to Disneyland, it’s not a question of which one is better, it’s a question of whether you like LARPing better than rollercoasters. Evermore has shows, restaurants, and food stands, but it has no rides. Instead, it has actors in costume, in character, wandering about the park that you can interact with. A fairy king has fallen to corruption, and that corruption is spreading through the town fast. A couple of people are trying to figure out how to reverse or at least contain it, but no one seems to be making much progress. Dig in the right places and you’ll find some of the townspeople are handing out honest to god quests.

I’ve been following the development of Evermore from a distance for years, and I decided that for the occasion I would slap together my very first cosplay.

Continue reading “Evermore: Preview Night”