Monday, May 3, 2010

Listening To: ST:OKast #005

Podcast: ST:OKast #005
Hosts: Todd Gilbert & Brandan Higgins
Release Date: 27 April 2010
Length: 60:37

The ST:OKast is the first Star Trek Online podcast I’ve listened to. The podcast and hosts were clearly influenced by the World of Warcraft podcast The Instance, using terms like “rumors and scuttlebutt” and having additional content like Techno Babble and a lore segment at the end of the podcast. In fact, Todd and Brandan have even advertised on The Instance.

But while parts of the ST:OKast sound familiar, their approach to covering the game is one I haven’t really heard before. While some game podcasts will use a segment to cover the forums, ST:OKast is all about covering the ST:O forums. The verdict? I liked it.

The news the hosts featured came from the forums, featuring news on upcoming lower level content, efforts to make Memory Alpha less confusing, the possibility of purchasing bridge set-ups seen in the various Star Trek series, the results on a poll on what players want most in ship interiors, and an update in the death penalty. The hosts also have a feature in which they select the best post of the week. This episode’s winner was a thread about adapting the game so players can use voice recognition software to play the game. The fact that players have figured out how to do that has me tempted to try the game out just to see that in action. I've included a video of a player demonstrating using the voice commands below. Wow!

I do want to say that my impression is that Todd and Brendan are not die-hard fanbois for the game. From listening to the podcast I get the impression that the game was launched without a lot of content and needs a lot of work. But they are also not cynics either and believe the game is only going to get better. Fair and balanced coverage? I’ll let you be the judge.

One of the truisms about MMORPGs is that a good community can make a good game into something special. Eve Online is a good example of this principal as its player-driven stories are what drive the popularity of the indie sci-fi title. I was wondering how Star Trek Online could compete with that aspect of the game. Perhaps Turbine can’t, but I believe that Todd and Brandan have figured out a way to tap into the community to bring more to their podcast than just the game.

I don’t like to judge a podcast until episode 5 because, like a new MMO, I like to give the hosts of a podcast a chance to work out a lot of the bugs. I think I can now fairly say that ST:OKast has a good concept and a pair of enthusiastic hosts who show a lot of promise. I’m not going to subscribe to the podcast, but only because it is based on a single game that I do not play. But if you are playing STO, and especially if you don’t want to spend hours in the forums finding the best posts, then I would recommend giving ST:OKast a listen.

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