Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gaming Podcast Reviews 3 Fear the Boot

Gaming podcast review no 3. Fear the Boot
Fear the Boot is a RPG podcast which has been running for a number of years having reached nearly 90 episodes. This has a strong humorous element in its content which usually works on a round table discussion between the hosts about a RPG related topic. The hosts come from a pool of gamers including some female hosts, which in my listening so far has been unusual.

Fear the Boot is very much in the 'zoo' format that has been used by some talk radio shows, this is reasonably successful, but does give a tendency for the hosts to be talking to each other rather than the listener. The upside of this is that it does give plenty of viewpoints in discussion.

There is useful discussion of gaming topics in the episodes I've listened to, for example common GMing mistakes and common player mistakes. I will admit I've only sampled a limited amount of the total number of episodes as it has a frequent update schedule and had hit 88 episodes by the time I started sampling Fear the Boot.

The technical quality of this podcast is high with all the hosts voices being clearly heard and the music not drowning voices during talkover. There is not any additional content (at least with the iTunes Music Store that I used to download the episodes) on the episodes like pictures or additional content.

I find that Fear the Boot is high on the entertainment factor, but it can be hard to get directly to the useful content like gaming tips. This doesn't apply to all the episodes and I will still listen to it, but it doesn't have the must listen appeal of Yog-Radio to me. I think that this is a successful podcast given the frequency and continuity of the episodes so I suspect that there are many people who do like this podcast.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gaming Podcast Review 2 All About Miniatures

And I produce the second of my gaming podcast reviews, there was a big of a struggle deciding which one to review as I have been listening to several recently and I enjoying them. I decided on a change of topic from the RPG slant of the first one to a miniatures gaming podcast. So this was a choice between All About Miniatures and Meeples & Miniatures.

Gaming podcast review no 2. All About Miniatures

I've now listened to all of these that have been released. All About Miniatures is a podcast, that is self explanatory in its name. Sadly we've not had any episodes released recently (at time of writing). The miniatures wargames that it covers includes historical, fantasy and SF games largely using larger scale miniatures (25-28mm). The regular hosts John and Dan (John Widerman and Daniel Martin) are engaging and this show has the multi presenter format that I favour. The show is linked to the Miniature General blog, which is John Martin's blog and is again has not been updated recently.

Content usually includes rules and miniatures reviews with many episodes split into two parts to keep the longer part close to the hour mark. The other regular features are feedback and battles in the month. They also have interviews, convention announcements and occasional guest features.

The most useful part of these podcasts to me is definitely the reviews as it is nice to hear a couple of opinions on a set of rules that has definitely been tried out by the reviewers. Another good feature with the reviews is that they do not always agree with each other so there is still a difference of opinion reflected.

A good podcast with a nice interplay between the presenters and useful reviews. I don't like it quite as much as I do Yog-Radio, but I would still say that I recommend it. Hopefully we will get some new episodes this year.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gaming Podcasts

I am going to do a series of reviews of gaming podcasts for Roleplaying Games, Miniatures, Card and Boardgames, the card games will not be the games played with a standard deck of cards instead being ones where the cards are specific to the game. I'm also ignoring gaming podcasts for console and computer games as this isn't a real area of interest to me.

I've listened to a lot of different podcasts lately, some where I have tried to get all the available material, others where I have only tried a limited range of the podcasts produced.

The views on the podcasts will be purely my own and reflect my own idiosincracies and tastes. However comments are welcomed.

A list of the podcasts I have listened to at time of writing is (in no particular order):

  • Yog-Radio
  • Meeples & Miniatures
  • All about miniatures
  • Pulp Gamer
  • The Solo Wargaming Show
  • Yog-Sothoth.com: Horror on the Orient Express
  • Boardgames To Go
  • The Dice Tower

There are plenty more that I will sample for the purposes of making this more comprehensive as a survey, more of that later and suggestions from readers are welcome.

Review No 1: Yog Radio
Yog Radio is a Cthulhu podcast or cephalopodcast that is quite well established having started in 2005 and reached 27 regular podcasts at the time of writing. It has three regular presenters which is a feature I prefer to the single presenter shows. The regular presenters Paul of Cthulhu (Paul MacLean), Fin Patterson and Neil Young clearly know each other well from gaming and it means that there is a good interplay between them. The website that this podcast comes from, Yog-Sothoth.com, is a well established Call of Cthulhu fan website that contains a lot of useful material for players of CoC or other horror RPG. Both the podcast and webite have been nominated for and won Ennies awards, which shows that they have met high standards.

Oh dear*

Yog Radio is a pretty regular podcast with the main podcast apppearing monthly, this is supplemented by a variety of different additional podcasts. The other podcasts include recorded gaming sessions, Horror on the Orient Express (which I will review later) and Masks of Nyarlathotep; readings of stories and recordings from conventions. I will do a separate review of the other podcasts soon. The usual length is around 1 and a half hours though it does vary with some episode exceeding two hours. Personally my preference is for a length of around 1 hour to 1 hour fifteen minutes, but with some of the content it is possible to lose track of time, particularly the interviews.

Moving swiftly on....*

The content includes regular news, the R'lyeth Report; feedback from email and audio; frequently interviews and smaller podcasts from other contributors. The interviews are not only with people involved in producing Cthulhu related games, but also with relevant film directors and authors. There is some review of products,but this is not a major part of the content.

Probably my favourite part of the content has been the interviews as it is nice to hear the views of people that have designed games, written books or been involved in creating films about the creative process. The interviewees have included some well known authors, such as Brian Aldiss and from the gaming side: Sandy Petersen, Adam Scott Glancy and Marcus L Rowland.

The segments from other contributors tend to be aimed at Keepers and I think have been useful in covering ideas that can help a keeper improve their skills or use fresh ideas. The only downside is the can be a little variable in technical quality making the sound of the show a little uneven.

The technical quality is high on the recent podcasts, having been variable on the earliest episodes. This has been due to acquiring new and better equipment and greater knowledge among the team. This is particularly pronounced on the shows where surround sound has been used and listening on headphones I've been able to hear that particular voices are coming from one side.

My conclusion
This is one of my favourite gaming podcasts as I like the interplay between the regular presenters, mixture of content and the indepth nature of the interviews. I recommend this strongly.

*Those who have listened will know that these are pretty much Paul of Cthulu's catchphrases

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Year Rising

So 2008 has begun with a lot of foreboding economically, particularly with Oil now going through the $100 a barrel figure. This is adding to the ongoing Credit Crunch to produce a pretty risky situation. This has led to a lot of downward movements in the stock markets, but I'm now getting more optimistic than when I started writing this post at the start of January.

The reasons that I've got some cautious optimism is due to the impact on commodity prices of the slowing US economy and the fact that this will help rebalance things. For the UK the declining exchange rate will help to make the economy less dependent on capital inflows from other economies and hopefully boost exports. The housing bubble starting to deflate will be good as long as it doesn't actually pop. I think the first couple of quarters will be painful, but because of low rates of unemployment the pain will not last too long.