Friday, September 9, 2011

The Curious Case Of The Dissappearing Rift Podcasts

As someone who plays and writes about many games, podcasts are a hugely important source of gaming news.  Anyone can type up an article to convey the same information, but a good podcast will give you a real sense of the game's community, and why the stories matter (or do not).  Throw in the fact that I can listen while not in front of a computer, and I literally don't know if I'd still be able to do this blog without podcasts. 

Which is why I find it interesting, sad, and perhaps a bit disturbing that, as Rift hits the six month mark of release, I'm on my third Rift Podcast in search of a fourth. 

The Rift Podcast
Around a year ago, when I started hearing rumblings about this game called Rift that people were getting excited about, my first real info came via The Rift Podcast - the oldest post I have tagged with Rift is actually a link to one of their old episodes.  To this day, I associate Rift's login screen music more strongly with the podcast than the actual game, and the interviews definitely played a major role in letting me know what this game was about. 

The partnership formed by the three girls - Arithion and Desikis the podcasters, and Cindy "Abigale" Bowens at Trion - accomplished something that may never have been done before, at least on such a scale.  Ari and Desi were given pre-beta NDA's so they could come in each and every week and hold live interviews with the people actually building the un-released game.  Exclusive access to the devs sounds like any podcaster's dream, but some of the stories Ari told late in the show's run made it sound like managing this working relationship was much more work and pressure than a typical podcaster has to go through.  Likewise, I'm sure that Cindy was taking at least somewhat of a risk in bringing outside people onboard to talk to everyone from the community team up to Scott Hartsman.  Fortunately for everyone, it paid off.

The Rift Podcast shut down shortly after the game finally launched, as Ari was suffering from health issues, and I was genuinely glad to hear that she's fully recovered.  In the mean time, the dedicated Rift slot in my podcast playlist was up for grabs.

Rift Watchers
I'd actually been listening to several of the other podcasts that opened up as the game hit open beta, but my new favorite was Rift Watchers.  There was no hot Austrailian chick, and Gavin did once threaten to hunt down and camp the corpse of Brian "Psychochild" Green because of something I had tweeted - apparently he thought "Green" Armadillo was somehow a cover name for the more famous developer.  Other than that, the show was great, with player round tables and a notorious call-in phone jingle. 

Then literally everyone involved suffered from nigh simultaneous cases of new or more involved jobs, additional projects, etc, and the folks decided to go their separate ways.  (Amusingly, poor Ferrel was finally promoted from recurring guest to official co-host the week they canceled the show, which sounds like something Joss Whedon would do.)

Player Versus Rift
So, it was back to the podcast pool yet again for a third podcast.  This time, I settled on Player Versus Rift.   Their sense of humor is a good change of pace from some of the other shows on my playlist, and I suppose I can support their choice of the name (which has absolutely nothing to do with me as far as I know).  So everything has been going well for like all of a month... and then out of the blue Casey announces that they're ending the show because he has a new job or something. Planes bleep it all. 

Morals of the story
The first moral of the story is that if any of you know a Rift podcast that you'd really like to see shut down in a week or two, let me know so I can add them to my hitlist and make that happen for you - this post is really all about me after all.  :)

That said, I wonder if there is something up here.  Podcasts open and close all the time, but this rate of Rift-related podcast attrition seems unusually high, especially since everyone seems to still like the game as of when they signed off.  Is it just inevitable that pre-launch enthusiasm will die down, as podcasters realize how much of their potential gaming time they have to spend working on their shows?  Or is there something else going on here? 

I don't know, but I suppose I have some dead air in which to think about it as I debate which Rift podcast to kill next.  :)


Stabs said...

The Multiverse is still going strong and quite Rift-oriented.

mbp said...

Slightly off topic but I have to ask when do people actually get the time to listen to podcasts? Using a feed reader I can scan dozens of blog and news posts in a matter of minutes but even a single podcast can last half an hour or more. For this reason I the entire podcasting phenomenon has passed me by.

Green Armadillo said...

@Stabs: Quiet, you fool, don't kill the Multiverse!

(Yes, they are one of my favorite multi-game podcasts.)

@MBP: I'm the opposite; it takes me an hour to research and write the average blogpost, I like to actually play sometimes, and I do NOT have time to troll dev-trackers on half a dozen game forums to find my news. My car has an audio input jack, so I can just download podcasts onto an MP3 player and suddenly my daily drive time is MMO news update time.

Stabs said...

@ GA Ha ha oops! I hope they survive your attention.

@ mbp I listen while playing games.

Paul said...

I really don't like podcasts. Have something to say? Write it down.

Psychochild said...

...Gavin did once threaten to hunt down and camp the corpse of Brian "Psychochild" Green because of something I had tweeted - apparently he thought "Green" Armadillo was somehow a cover name for the more famous developer.

Damn it! I do just fine smearing my own reputation, I don't need your help! :P Anyway, I hadn't heard about that. What did you tweet?

I do have to admit I don't care for podcasts much. I love being a guest, and have been on some very quality shows. The problem is that I've had some very talkative relatives in my life and I've learned to "tune out" talking too easily. So, either I have to give my entire attention to a podcast, or I miss about half of it as I focus on whatever else I'm doing at the time (especially gaming!)

But, it is interesting that so many shows have come and gone. Maybe just some unfortunate timing instead of a sign of deeper issues in the game community....

Green Armadillo said...

@Psychochild: This was very early in their run (maybe 2nd or 3rd episode). I'd been debating whether to go Defiant on the server with the Rift Watchers guild or go Guardian on Byriel with Ferrel and his gang. I tweeted something to the effect that, with apologies to RW, I was going Guardian because I liked the lore better.

Gavin tweeted back that he was fine with my decision as long as I rolled guardian on his server so he could kill me. Then he brought it up on the show, which was when he got confused which of us he had been talking to.

I left them a voice message with that said something like: "You're listening to Rift Watchers, the podcast that has sworn to hunt me down and kill me... except for Gavin, who is camping Brian Psychochild Green in a case of mistaken identity. Sorry 'bout that, Brian."

So that's the story, indeed, sorry if Gavin did at any point actually camp you over the incident. :)

Ardent Defender said...

Though aware of some podcast and on different MMP games, i've never ever spent any time listening to a podcast.

Dalt said...

I also listen to them while I am on my commute. My reading time is very limited so this is the only way I get regular gaming news (other than a few select blogs...).

Anonymous said...

So what's left? I was listening to RiftJunkies but I haven't heard an update from them since October. Anyone have any suggestions?

Green Armadillo said...

@Anon: Rift Reporter is the only Rift podcast that I know of which is updating on a regular basis at the moment.

One news tidbit is that Casey has since revealed that PVR ended because Trion has contracted his studio to record the new official unofficial Rift podcast, so that's presumably coming down the pike at some point, but I haven't heard much on when.