Apr 27 2009

[Podcast Review] The Instance

This is the first in my series of podcast reviews spawned by my new found love of podcasts. Most of them will be World of Warcraft related, but the rest will be pertinent geek life.

I’m going to start right off and say that I love The Instance. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a fangirl of Scott Johnson. I read all his comics, listen to all his podcasts, read his blog. But I digress…
Scott Johnson and Randy “Deluxe” Jordan have fantastic chemistry. They balance each other perfectly. This does a lot to do attract the high numbers of listeners that they have that don’t actually play World of Warcraft. If Scott goes off on a rant about this or that, Randy is there with the hard facts to bring him back again. Randy and Scott can be on opposite sides of an issue, but it never decays into an arguement. After so many episodes together, they’ve developed a rapport and inside jokes have developed. I mean, who would have thought that Scott’s wrestling name in high school would be the same as the band that Randy played bass for?
It’s very clear that both of them have a passion for the game and truly enjoy playing. It is not a podcast that’s going to teach you how to get that extra 5 points of DPS in 25 man Naxx. It’s more concerned with making sure that you get the most out of the game no matter what your play style is. They strive to make sure that listeners know what’s going on in the game and with Blizzard in general so that no one misses out on anything. Most refreshing is that unlike some WoW players, they never loose sight of the fact that it is a game and should be enjoyable, otherwise it’s not worth playing.
The format consists regular segments for every episode covering the biggest news, WoW rumors, and questions from listeners. Episodes generally run about an hour and a half, but if the particular episode happens to be jam-packed, Scott and Randy are more than happy to let it run long to cover everything. I have to say, this is a rarity in WoW podcasts. Many others tend to be a bit too tied to their “time limit” and will cut off topics without letting them progress to their logical conclusion. However, they also know when someone (like a guest… ahem, Turpster) is wandering a bit too far off target and Scott and Randy are excellent at reigning them back in without stifling conversation.
Regular contributions from listeners like Patrick (from How I WoW), Mean Gene, Buxley, and others provides a variety of information for listeners. These segments contain information in little snippets that if they were the basis of the podcast would bog it down in number crunching and urls. There’s the Mod of the Week, PvP tips, twinking tips, and many others that come and go from week to week. This might be one of The Instance’s best qualities: Anyone can contribute. My favorites, by far, are the WoW parody songs. Those get stuck in my head, and I sing them for days.
The Instance has the highest production values of any WoW podcast I’ve yet heard. The segments submitted by listeners vary in quality, but all are better than many whole podcasts I’ve heard. This does a lot to make it enjoyable. There aren’t any sound problems to distract from the content. A lot of smaller podcasts suffer this fate, I feel, making me not want to listen even if I am completely interested in the subject matter.
The Instance has been described to me as “listening to a couple of your close friends talk about WoW.” It’s true, Scott and Randy feel like friends to me now. I follow both of them on Twitter. (You can follow me too!) But I’ve got to tell you, it’s way more interesting than listening to my friends talk about WoW. And while the expansion and all the new content had a lot to do with it, The Instance has really gotten me “into” WoW again. I’m even thinking about overlooking my distaste for leveling alts just to join the guild they started, Alea Iacta Est. I find that even though the podcast is all about playing WoW in whatever way you find enjoyable, it makes me want to be a better WoW player.

So, thanks, Scott and Randy, for setting the bar so high for other WoW podcasts.

Apr 14 2009

The Twitter Allure

To Tweet or not to Tweet.

I was talking about Twitter with a couple of people around the office yesterday, and they were asking me to explain what’s awesome about it. I had to think about it. I have my own personal reasons for loving Twitter, but I was trying to get at the deeper draw. I finally came up with four main reasons to Tweet. Any or all of these probably apply to everyone on Twitter.

1. Everyone elses’ lives are more interesting than our own.

I’m pretty sure this is a universal truth, and it’s not just related to Twitter. It’s why people gossip and why people watch horrible reality television (Note: I am also guilty of such nonsense). It doesn’t matter what mundane thing someone else is doing, it’s still more interesting than the mundane thing that you are involved in.

2. You can follow the lives of the semi-famous.

It is very easy to follow minor (or former) celebrities and still manage to be sure that they are who you think they are. For example, as I mentioned before, I’m following three of the cast memeber of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I followed a very short and very stable chain to find them.

Scott Johnson (Podcast host extraordinaire) who is following ->
Felicia Day (Internet superstar, Dr. Horrible, The Guild) who is following ->
Wil Wheaton (Real life friends with Felicia Day) who is following ->
Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton

So, there I am. Celebrities sending updates into my little inbox. Fantastic. And their lives are just as boring as mine, but I get to hear about it (See point 1).

3. You’re promoting one of your other internet ventures.

That’s why I wound up on Twitter in the first place. Not because I was promoting something of my own, but because the guys who do the podcasts I like to listen to leave messages on Twitter saying when they’re doing the cast live and listeners can join the chat room. It’s sort of expanded from there. But it’s a good way to let people who are interested in what you have to offer know that you’ve updated something or are running some sort of promotion.

4. The possibility of internet stardom.

It’s part of the same reason why people blog. People want other people to care about them and what they’re doing. I’m not going to lie. Internet stardom is so very appealing. I’m so into so much web culture that I can’t help but want to be a part of it. Hence the blog and the Twitter and all of that.

So, that’s that. The Twitter Allure. So go forth and Tweet.

And you can follow me on Twitter.

Apr 11 2009

Blog resurrection

I’m taking it back. What better time for a resurrection than Easter. Sacrelicious! I know, I know. Everyone has a blog. I won’t delusion myself that anyone but my husband-to-be will want to read it (Hi, honey).

But here I am, on the internet. I got myself hooked up with the Twitter. I’m Tweeting and following minor/major celebrities. Very exciting. I’m slowly adding to my ST:TNG collection. So far, I’ve got Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton. Going well, I think. Plus, now that I’ve got this podcast bug, I find I have more to say.

So, there. The premier entry. The champagne bottle broken over this repository of ramblings.