Pod is the new Blog: A complete review of MMO Gaming Podcasts
Jan 29, 2006 22:07:00

Over the past year, the proliferation of broadband service and the popularity of Apple's iPod have facilitated the growth of a new brand of blogging known as Podcasting. MMOG bloggers and players now have an additional source of information and an exciting new medium within which they can express ideas, report news and build communities. Like many gamers, I am always in search of more information about the games I play, and lucky for all of us, we can now take these MMOG blogcasts with us while driving, working, and playing. Hundreds (maybe even a thousand) hours of podcast listening, have gone into the creation of this somewhat thorough podcast review. Enjoy.

Rating system:

= Not Good
= Needs Serious Improvement
= Solid Effort
= One of the Best
= Perfection

Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://taverncast.com/listen.shtml
Hosts: Cromley, Kirnkaterre, Eloysius, Asros and sometimes Karg
Commentary: Taverncast is perhaps the most popular WoW podcast around. The show is populated by 4 (and sometimes 5) energetic personalities who would make a good sitcom cast in the spirit of That 70's Show. (Alachia from WoWCast even mentioned that Cromley sounds like Topher Grace, and she's right.) This high spirited cast of characters makes the show, but sometimes it breaks the show too as they devolve from clever banter into utter chaos on occasion. The occasional breakdown aside, the show has a consistent and thorough format that covers virtually every Warcraft topic one could ask for: patches, lore, role-playing, class advice, microbrew selections, crazy stalker-fans, world events, rumors, murloc gargling contests, raiding, battlegrounds, guild management, etc etc etc. The production value is passable and rapidly improving, particularly the editing which is a boon. For listeners who prefer a talking-head-just-the-facts-ma'am-podcast, this may not be the right show, but if you prefer a little bitter in your beer and some pork in your rinds, Taverncast will be happy to serve it to you.
(4 / 5)

World of Warcast
Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://www.worldofwarcast.com/
Hosts: Starman and Renata
Commentary: World of Warcast stands out as the most complete podcast amidst its peers. Producer and host, Starman, takes his podcast rather seriously while still
managing to enjoy the process. The sound and editing quality is superb and the show format is casual, yet precise and organized. In fact, precise and organized sums up Starman to a T. For anyone who listens to both Starman and Gaming Steve ... what would you give to hear them do a podcast together? If I discovered that these two guys were twin brothers, I wouldn't be surprised for a moment. Anyway, this is one of the few, if not the only, podcast on this list that utilizes the AAC format, which allows us to skip from section to section of the podcast as one would with a CD. MP3 podcasts do not have this capability. This sounds trivial, but you'll realize how great it is when you accidentally bump the iPod buttons when half-way through a three hour podcast that isn't in the AAC format. Fast forwarding through a couple hours to get back to your spot on the iPod isn't much fun. If you listen to podcasts on your PC, this is a non-issue. (Again, I would pay money to hear Gaming Steve and Starman debate this topic.) Starman's new co-host, Renata, is an absolute pleasure to listen to and she wields an impressive amount of knowledge about the classes as well as the instanced content. She is a tremendous addition to Starman's show. All in all, this is a first class podcast.
(4.5 / 5)

Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://wowcast.net/
Host: Alachia
Commentary: Alachia initially struck me as something of a "fangurl" who was unlikely to put forth a valuable offering in the podcast realm, however she has proven to be a charming and knowledgeable host who, unlike many of the other podcasters, has done a fantastic job educating her listeners on the ins and outs of instance strategies, raid protocol, and class specific tactics, particularly in raid and group formats. The podcast format varies greatly from episode to episode so you never know what you're going to get. Most podcasters put a show format in place to guide their work as well as to set expectations for listeners, but a random sampling of topics and formats seems to suit Alachia just fine. The podcast is not produced frequently and the audio quality is average at best, but Alachia's eclectic and sporadic podcasts are worth waiting for.
(3 / 5)

The Instance
Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://www.theinstance.net
Hosts: Scott Johnson and Andrew
Commentary: This professionally produced 25 minute hot-topic podcast is hosted by two very capable gentlemen. Due to the short format, topics are not explored in depth, but if you do not have the time or patience for long podcasts, this is the one you should listen to. Efficiency and professionalism describe The Instance very well. Be sure to subscribe to this one if you're a WoW player.
(5 / 5)

World of Warcraft Tips
Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://www.warcrafttips.com/
Hosts: Sosaria and Macmullet
Commentary: Early episodes of this short-form podcast were only "ok", but in only a few short months World of Warcraft Tips has become a well presented show. The format is very similar to The Instance in subject matter as well the presence of two very listenable hosts. Production value leaves something to be desired, but the content and personality of the hosts has allowed me to overlook that flaw. Podcast production quality tends to start out as awful or un-listenable and develops as the producers improve their recording equipment and expertise. World of Warcraft Tips is no exception. Add this one to your subscription list.
(3.5 / 5)

World of Podcast
Subject: World of Warcraft
Website: http://worldofpodcast.blogspot.com/
Host: Samuel Altersitz
Commentary: This podcast is merely the foul mouthed ranting of one jaded gamer. Occasionally, there are bits of guidance and advice on group and raid play as well as gear comparisons, however even these portions are littered with pompous elitist comments and wall to wall obscenities. On the plus side, the production value is good and the format of the podcast is short, usually less than 30 minutes. Occasionally, the host will see fit to post a very short rant podcast in which he essentially strings f-bombs together in tightly knit bursts of flame and fury. "Blizzard sucks", "fire the designers", "if you do X you're an idiot." These exclamations flow from Uncle Thursday at a rate of at least one per minute. While suffering through the 6 episodes I downloaded I often wondered why someone who clearly hates World of Warcraft and Blizzard with such refined passion would take the time, energy, and money to produce a regular podcast? All in all, if you are a very very angry gamer who wants to listen to an equally angry gamer, this is for you. If you are seeking useful information or at the very least, an enjoyable listening experience I recommend steering clear of this blather. Samuel's malcontent could be quite entertaining if he was prone to clever dialog and commentary, unfortunately, he sticks with the f-bomb as his primary mode of expression. This podcast is so incredibly bad, that I hesitated to include it here, but decided a warning was in order.
(0.5 / 5)

Raiding Party
Subject: World of Warcraft Events
Website: http://www.obsidianriver.com/portal/
Hosts: The Raid Leader
Commentary: This, ah, new podcast, is, um, sorta, um, well the idea behind it is, ah, to provide a, umm, public forum for, oh um, in game events like, ahh, raids and so forth. People can, um, send us an email, or, ah, even a sound file and ummm, we'll play it so that ahh, pick up raids can get enough players and stuff. Get the picture? Ok, that was a bit mean, but that is what it sounds like. Mr. Raid Leader will surely become more comfortable with the mic as he pays his dues. The podcast's concept is good idea that will take some time to catch on. It is doubtful, with so many realm servers, if a forum of this kind will be effective in connecting players to events to attend. It seems that a player could listen for hours and hours for weeks on end and never hear of an event for his or her server, but who knows, it might work. It
is a novel and generous offering. If a strong web presence is developed to support this, it could work. Stay tuned to see if takes off.
(1.5 / 5)

EQ2-Daily.com EverQuest Podcast
Subject: EverQuest II
Website: http://www.eq2-daily.com/podcast.aspx
Hosts: Cyanbane, Valarious, and Rotacidare
Commentary: Searching high and low has turned up very few EverQuest or EverQuest II podcasts, but the good news is that the primary one available is of good quality. The three hosts of EQ2-Daily record a weekly podcast, run an EQ2 news aggregator site, host an EQ2 forum, write an EQ2 blog, and manage an EQ2 wiki. Each well-produced show has an enormous amount of raw data to absorb. Sometimes, I actually listened to a podcast twice because I simply needed to process the information more completely. For the record, I have never listened to any other podcast episodes twice, that would be boring, but with EQ2 Daily, I found it necessary in some cases. Class comparisons, live update assessments, test server news, crafting strategies, equipment advice, and in-depth examinations of the many ways one can drink Crown Royal are among the usual subjects covered. Even though I have been on a long hiatus from EverQuest II, it is a joy to tune in each week to hear the news. I fear that these fellows will drag me back into Norrath against my will.
(3.5 / 5)

The Galaxy Report
Subject: Star Wars Galaxies
Website: http://thegalaxyreport.com/
Hosts: Fariq Asaka and Gihren
Commentary: Galaxy Report is the flagship Star Wars Galaxies podcast. The two hosts do a very good job of covering SWG topics in depth and they also are a joy to listen to. The podcasts range in length from 45 minutes to one and a half hours. These fellows have handled the recent SWG turmoil with considerable grace, and while I've never played a single minute of SWG, I have no problem digesting the discussions.
(3.5 / 5)

The Paragon Podcast
Subject: City of Heroes/Villains
Website: http://www.whiterose.org/paragon/
Hosts: Rick J'onzz
Commentary: There has been a shortage (complete lack actually) of City of Heroes podcasts, but recently Rick J'onzz has swooped in with his cape to save the day and fill this void. Not only is he the host of the only CoH/CoV podcast that can be easily found, he is doing a darn fine job as well. With only a couple episodes under his belt, Rick has mastered the production of podcasts. News and intriguing topics are blended with entertaining virtual interviews taken on the streets of Paragon City. In the first episode Dr. Doom dropped by to chat with Rick. The result was one of the funniest podcast moments ever produced. Even if you aren't a superhero under those clothes, check out Rick's podcast.
(4 / 5)

Subject: MMOG News
Website: http://www.stratics.com
Hosts: Gabe (formerly hosted by Beans)
Commentary: As a blogger who attempts to stay in touch with the emerging MMORPG titles and news, this podcast is perhaps the most useful. The podcast is and extremely short (10 minutes) blast of news regarding the MMOG market. Stratics, as an organization, is extremely close to the market and therefore does not miss a beat when reporting the relevant news. Recently, the host of this weekly show was changed from Beans to Gabe. I like Gabe, but the truth is, Beans put together a much stronger show. Each of Beans's shows was extremely well planned and produced. I am of the impression that she scripted each show word for word, and often sounded slightly unnatural in her delivery because she was reading each line as written, but the preparation paid dividends in the quality of her shows. On the other hand, Gabe is an extremely strong presenter, but his content seems hurried and lightly researched in comparison. Regardless, the podcast is consistently strong and professional.
(3.5 / 5)

Game/On (MMORPG Podcast)
Subject: MMORPG News
Website: http://mmorpg.com/gameon.cfm
Hosts: Matt McLean and Jon Wood
Commentary: The MMORPG.com podcast is peculiar. MMORPG.com, like Stratics, is extremely well connected within the industry and maintains a comprehensive (if a bit corporate) MMORPG news site. This strength should allow MMORPG to produce a fantastic podcast, however, this is not the case. The podcast is produced monthly, which is hardly frequent enough considering the content is primarily news. The news presented is often "old news" by the time the podcast is released. Oddly enough, each podcast clocks in at around 45 minutes, however only the first ten or fifteen minutes of that time is used for news content. The remainder of the time is filled (read: padded) with music from MMORPGs. The podcast's production quality is mediocre and Matt and Jon are competent, but un-engaging hosts. This podcast is disappointing, but not worthless.
(2 / 5)

PC Gamer Podcast
Subject: PC Gaming News
Website: http://www.pcgamer.com/
Hosts: Various
Commentary: The PC Gamer Podcast is the audio extension of PC Gamer magazine and is hosted by various members of the PC Gamer staff. Production quality is high, the various hosts are entertaining and well informed, and the frequent interviews with industry insiders are great. The podcast typically runs 45 minutes and has no set format which doesn't seem to hurt its appeal at all. All PC games are covered but no information is covered in extreme depth. This podcast is a good source of general PC Gaming news.
(3 / 5)

Online Gaming Radio
Subject: EQ2, Lord of the Rings Online, and World of Warcraft
Website: http://radio.ogaming.com/
Hosts: Akira (EQ2) and Tucksma (LotR and WoW)
Commentary: OGaming's podcast series has two distinct titles in there podcast rotation, EQ2's Day hosted by Akira (who is male despite the girly name) and From Middle-Earth to Azeroth hosted by Tucksma. The greatest strength of these two podcasts is the regular inclusion of interviews with industry insiders. OGaming has the connections to set these up on a regular basis and for this reason alone, it is worth checking out these podcasts. And now, what is wrong them? Individually, E2's day is a bit stronger than Middle-Earth to Azeroth simply because of the hosts. Akira is a competent and charismatic host and though I am often suspicious of the gaming expertise of Akira and his non-industry guests, the material presented is crisp, factual and useful. The biggest gap is a lack of knowledge on anything outside of EQ2. Comparisons with the mechanics of other games are frequently inaccurate or misinformed, a trait that is frustrating in a podcaster (mostly because they can't hear my protests or corrections no matter how clearly I speak into my iPod Nano.) Tucksma, the host of Middle-Earth to Azeroth, is diametrically opposed to Akira. Tucksma seems to know a considerable amount of information about MMORPGs and her guests are interviewed with precise and probing questions, however, Tucksma has all the personality traits of a stereotypical gamer, most notably the terribly unfunny gamer humor and inside jokes. ("*snort snort* You mean you actually think the Vorpal Sword of Pwn had a +6 dex? WTFOMGLOLerSk8sUNoob! *snort snort*") Weakness aside, the interviews are great, the production quality is good, and the information served is useful.
(3 / 5)

Gaming Steve
Subject: Gaming News and Reviews
Website: http://www.gamingsteve.com/archives/podcast/index.php
Host: Stephen Glicker
Commentary: Gaming Steve is billed as "a vortex of gaming knowledge." Is he ever. This man knows more about games, gaming, gamers, game companies, and game systems than anyone I've ever heard. Only the Will Wrights of the world could listen to Steve's podcasts and (perhaps) not gain enormous amounts of information and insight into the gaming universe. Gaming Steve's listeners have the opportunity to gain the perspective of a prolific, intelligent, and studied gamer. Gaming Steve covers EVERY kind of game on EVERY gaming system known to man. Everything from World of Warcraft to Need to Speed to Legend of Zelda is reviewed and discussed in depth. While details regarding Steve's background are scarce, he is an industry insider who has owned and operated his own gaming company and has served as a consultant in the game industry. He has many friends and contacts within the industry and seems to be very well respected. He schedules interviews with key personnel at major game studios on a regular basis and executes those interviews with grace. Steve's production skills are second to none. His professionalism is second to none. His knowledge is second to none. His podcast is second to none.
(5 / 5)

GameCast Online
Subject: Games and Gadgets
Website: http://www.gamecastonline.com/
Host: Brian Waggoner (AKA Asros from Taverncast)
Commentary: Brian's alter-ego, Asros, on Taverncast is the most disruptive personality on that show, but on GameCast, where Brian is the host he is surprisingly lucid. GameCast online can best be summarized as Gaming Steve Jr. The content is similar, the format is similar, and the production quality is equally superb. The only significant difference is the host. Gaming Steve excels in expertise and industry insight, but Brian excels in producing entertaining shows with precisely the right amount of detail within his chosen subjects. His laid back style, dry sense of humor, honest and insightful commentary and excellent production skills mark him as perhaps the most accomplished podcaster on this entire list. GameCast Online is an excellent show, and while I was skeptical at first, this podcast is now among my favorites. Brian has had a variety of well chosen co-hosts on his show, my only request to Brian would be, please never invite Jamie Jordan from Gaming Uncensored to be a guest again. The show deserves better.
5 / 5)

There is an incredible amount of material here. I hesitated to add ratings as I'm sure I'll get flamed over every missing half-point, but some sort of measurable comparison seemed appropriate. If you have the time, subscribe to these podcasts and go back and listen to all the old shows, or just subscribe now and start listening to the new material. Obviously, there will be many podcasts that have eluded me, or are still on the "to-do" list. If you listen to or create a podcast that is not on this list please post a comment here or mail prognosticator@virginworlds.com and it will be included in future reviews and podcast news on VirginWorlds.com.

-The Prognosticator

Submitted by Brent on Jan 29, 2006 22:07:00 CST (comments: 0)


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