17/05/2012

Four Mini Podcast Reviews

Back when I used to play WoW, I often liked to listen to WoW fan podcasts while playing. Doing the same thing in The Old Republic is a bit trickier if you're questing and don't want to miss the voice work, but it's not too hard to occasionally pause whatever you're listening to in order to have a chat with all the NPCs at a quest hub, and then resume the playback once you're out and about killing things again.

One thing I've found remarkable about all the SWTOR podcasts I've listened to so far is that none of them have been badly made, even if some of them didn't personally appeal to me because of the hosts or the content. While looking for WoW podcasts I always had huge issues with finding way too many of them that had no structure and were badly edited, but with TOR podcasts I haven't run into a single one with any of these problems yet. Kudos to a knowledgeable community.

Here are four podcasts that I've been listening to for a while and what I think of them (in a nutshell). I might eventually post more reviews like this as I've been trying to broaden my horizons, but I need to listen to multiple episodes of each new podcast before I can really form an opinion on it.

The Instance: The Old Republic Edition

The Instance is one of the longest-running and most popular WoW podcasts. Being an avid listener, I was very pleased when they announced that they were going to start recording a SWTOR version as well, even if this immediately came with the bad news that Turpster (whom I personally consider to be the funniest of the three hosts) wasn't going to join in for this project as he's rather anti Star Wars.

Still, the final result did not disappoint. Scott and Dills still make a funny team, and I feel that Dills in particular actually gets to shine more in the Old Republic Edition than he ever did in the original Instance (possibly due to the absence of Turpster and his fairly dominant personality).

The sad news is that it seems to me that the entertainment value of the last couple of episodes has been declining rapidly. Scott in particular often sounds like he's already a bit bored of the game, and his claims to the contrary don't sound very convincing when he admits in the same breath that he's struggling to get any character past level thirty. It's a very stark contrast to the WoW podcast, where he still manages to get massively excited about every little bit of news even as they are approaching their 300th episode. It's also notable that they have a whole segment dedicated to criticising the game, something that I find rather odd for a fan podcast.

Final verdict: Strong podcasting team, started out great. Lately suffering from declining enthusiasm, and I find myself worrying about the future of the show if Scott would rather play WoW.

Mos Eisley Radio

This is quickly becoming my favourite SWTOR podcast, as it has just the right mix of everything for my taste, including but not limited to: interesting guests and news, intelligent and thoughtful discussion, great enthusiasm for the game but not without a critical eye, and of course a little bit of humour sprinkled on top.

Final verdict: Really can't say anything bad about this one. Highly recommended! I just wish they'd update more often.

Sunny's Diner

Another podcast hosted on the Mos Eisley Radio website. With this one it took me a little while to get into it, because at first I was a bit put off by the title, as I just couldn't decide what to make of the food theme. What do diners have to do with Star Wars?

Once I started listening, I learned that the host considers his show to be "the podcast for the casual SWTOR gamer". Personally, I'm not sure you could be called casual by any means if you listen to or even create podcasts related to your hobby, but maybe that's just me. Thing is, I don't consider myself a casual gamer either... but I still ended up finding Sunny's Diner very appealing. Like MER, it offers both humour and intelligent discussion, and I don't really feel that any of it is particularly targeted at the "casual" gamer only. I suppose they are casual in so far as they don't talk much about endgame activities like operations, but I'm quite happy to just listen to their general observations and stories about the game anyway.

Final verdict: Similar to Mos Eisley Radio really, even if it features different people. Don't be confused by the food themed title and intro, it's about SWTOR through and through. Shorter in length than the average MER episode, but just as entertaining.

Corellian Run Radio

I only started listening to this podcast comparatively recently, after one of the hosts guest-starred on Mos Eisley Radio. One thing that I immediately found refreshing about Corellian Run Radio is that it's a SWTOR podcast that appears to be primarily run by ladies - even better: ladies that are clearly hugely enthusiastic about the game. That's not to say that they never criticise anything, but even then you can always tell that they are extremely passionate about the game in a good way. This is a great podcast to listen to if other people's negative comments ever get you down.

The only problem I have with Corellian Run Radio is the main host, Carla - at least sometimes. I'd like to emphasise that this is completely subjective, but something about her accent often makes me cringe, and more often than not her opinions on what's best about the game are diametrically opposed to mine. After the umpteenth time of her declaring why the Republic is lame and how she can't wait for the game to get a dungeon finder and cross-server grouping, I just want to shut the whole thing off sometimes. However, she still does a good job regardless.

Final verdict: A podcast that radiates love and enthusiasm for the game. Only "issue" is that the main host has a very strong personality, something that you might find great... but if you're anything like me, there's also a chance that you might find it annoying instead.

8 comments :

  1. "What do diners have to do with Star Wars?"

    Oh, come on. :)

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  2. Well yes. :P They also have a cantina band. I'm just saying that it didn't seem like a very intuitive title to me.

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  3. I love me some Sunny's Diner. Started listening to them after the second fansite summit debacle and have been hooked ever since. Also, stay far, far away from TOROCast. That podcast used to be fun to listen to, and now half the hosts don't even play TOR and the other half endlessly bash it. It's pathetic.

    And don't forget that the official podcast starring Eric Muscoe (of former TOROCast fame) and Brooks Guthrie (of former Mos Eisley Radio fame)!

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    1. I have yet to listen to the official podcast, but it's on my to-do list. Thanks for the heads-up on TOROCast.

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  4. YMMV. I find TOROCast's value to be in the banter between the hosts. Part of the "not playing" stems from 1 guy moving to another state, changing jobs, and not having a stable internet connection, and another going through the process of buying and moving into a house. That being said, the current episodes consist of what they've been doing that is fun, which usually is short play sessions of not TOR, RL discussion, random poking of the other hosts, mixed with discussion of their thoughts of the latest TOR developments. As an FYI, they seem to be the type that will play another game if they don't have 3+ hours to devote to TOR/any mmo. At any rate, yes I'm a TOROCast apologist, but mainly because I find the banter entertaining and I've had the same frustrations with Bioware that they talk about. They're the podcast that's most likely to be honest about how many players view what's going on.

    I haven't listened to the official podcast, and I suppose I should, but my pov is it's going to be the fanboi'iest of the podcasts out there. Musco (one of the hosts) used to be on TOROCast, but tbh I didn't listen to TOROCast until right before TOR's release. I never saw the point of listening to podcasts about a game that people in beta couldn't talk about and I couldn't play.

    Part of what annoys me about "The Instance" is that they are somewhat fanboyish, but 1) they don't even research some things they talk about and then waste 10 minutes talking about how some feature is going to work or does work, and they're wrong, and then 2) they can't even get a character to the end of chapter 1. Again, decent banter between the hosts, but it feels like they're just wasting everyone's time doing a podcast they feel like they're "supposed" to do.

    MER is pretty good and I kind of lump it in with DH. They want to love tor and sometimes play the role of Bioware apologists (at least they have in the past), but they also have some great moments where you say, "Damn, I wish I could log into TOR right now" or "Man, I'd love to sit and nerd out with these guys." They also have seemed to be more honest about TOR's flaws and Bioware's flaws, at least in the episodes I've listened to lately. I'm not completely up to date on those two.

    Republic's Most Wanted is a more end game focused podcast with decent content, at least in the intro and the latest episode (those are the 2 I've listened to since learning of it this week).

    In before anyone says I hate TOR. TOR's the only star wars out there right now, and I have guildies and guild allies who I can do end game with. I enjoy trinity style end game, chatting with friends, and star wars. I want to love TOR, but I get frustrated when Bioware takes one step forward and 2 steps back. I'll leave it at that, and close with, give any podcast out there a listen to. You will find that your opinions on them may vary widely from those of your friends and blogmates. As long as you're not paying by the byte, it's always worth a download 'cause you never know what will tickle your fancy. Good luck in your search.

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    1. I should have added, MER has the best use of outside sound clips. They always crack me up and make me feel like popping the relevant video into the technologically appropriate player.

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    2. I should also add, iff you enjoy webcasts, you may enjoy Gamebreaker TV's "The Republic." I personally enjoy it. Some people can't stand the main host. They've got a guy from Darth Hater (I assume he started it?), Larry Everret (sp?) from Massively, and Taugrim, a dude who enjoys pvp in mmo's and writes pretty insightful (imo) articles on pvp. I find it to be a good mix of pov's. The viewer submitted questions are worthless usually, but that's a smaller portion of time. The benefit of catching it "live" is the pre and post show discussion, since some information sneaks out, sometimes tor relevant, sometimes not.

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