EverQuest II Soundtrack, Laura Karpman, 2004
In some ways, EverQuest II ended up between a rock and a hard place. Its predecessor EverQuest – together with Ultima Online – had established the genre of MMORPGs as we know them today. That meant that expectations for EverQuest II were high, to say the least. To the credit of developer Sony Online Entertainment, they released a product that was polished, accessible and among the best MMORPGs released up to that point. It just wasn’t the kind of quantum leap that EverQuest had been. And then World of Warcraft landed and changed MMORPGs forever. EverQuest II was ultimately far from a commercial flop – it did peak at 325,000 subscribers – but it didn’t stand a chance against World of Warcraft and the millions of subscribers it attracted. Still, EverQuest II retained a dedicated fan base, with the sixteenth expansion Reign of Shadows released in 2020, fourteen years after the base game’s release.
The developers put significant emphasis on the game’s audio – several reviewers commented on the impressive amount of recorded speech, delivered by high-profile actors such as Christopher Lee and Heather Graham. For the EverQuest II soundtrack, Sony turned to Laura Karpman. Karpman, making her game score debut, was an intriguing choice. A classically trained composer and jazz performer, Karpman had written for the concert hall, but also for film, television and theatre. By the time she worked on EverQuest II, she had already gathered several Emmy Award wins and nominations, with her biggest assignment being the score for Steven Spielberg’s TV series Taken. EverQuest II was the beginning of a productive career in video games for Karpman, while she continued her work in various other media. Meanwhile, in 2016 she became the first woman elected to the music branch of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.