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Podcasting Is Hard plus E3 TMA Plans

May 22nd, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 7 Comments · E3, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead

This morning I was a guest on the Civ community podcast The Polycast. (There will be a link to the specific show once Dan Quick gets it all edited and stuff.) I love being invited on to other people’s shows and sites. It’s nice to interact with a different audience and panel, though I clearly did not bring my A game this morning. I didn’t have much to say on many of the topics, partly because the Polycast show format is to go over things that people are talking about on the community forums. Once things have been said, I find it hard to say a lot that is new and original and the Civ community is pretty smart in general. They play more Civ than I do.

People are always asking me for advice about how to do a podcast, which I suppose is a sign of some success. 65 episodes later, I have no idea how to advise others beyond the technical and really don’t consider myself an expert. This is a hard thing, and it gets harder the more popular Three Moves Ahead becomes.

I read an email today from a new listener who discovered us on the Something Awful forums. He was thanking me for providing a podcast where we go over games, concepts and topics in great detail. Three Moves Ahead is not a show that will spend forty minutes on “what we are playing” (not that there is anything wrong with that; two of my favorite shows – Gamers with Jobs Conference Call and Jumping the Shark do that). I can’t just skim a topic, either.

Three Moves Ahead is definitely not a show that pretends we are less mature or more amusing than we are. Tom’s offers of coffee are perpendicular to funny, in fact. We will drop names of battles and authors and political stuff and not always explain them and some people will be left behind, and that sucks but we’re not going to do relationship humor (someone seriously asked me if we had thought about doing that…) or riff on each others’ personal failings as running jokes (this too).

Three Moves Ahead is also not a show that goes over the latest gaming news and then offers a little commentary on the tidbits. As I told the guy who wrote the nice email this morning, I’ve lost no family in the console wars, so I’m not really invested in pushing a news driven podcast agenda. The early few Three Moves Ahead shows are more likely to have covered more than one topic or game. That just didn’t work well, so we avoid that now unless there is a unifying theme. (Big March RTSes, for example.)

Now I am not saying that our way is better – it isn’t. Somebody has to talk about the news and lots of other shows do that and do it very well. The round table talking about gaming news was the default pattern for a long time, though, and no new podcast can approach gaming in that way and hope to break in unless it has a lot of built in fan support.

Our way is definitely difficult, though. I like to jokingly complain about how hard it is to get my podcast team on the same page for an hour of recording. The hardest part is actually setting a schedule. We all have lives, and if there are two big, deep strategy games in a month it can be hard to actually play them in the depth they deserve. At this very moment, I am crash writing an article that refuses to be born and somehow I need to make time for Master of Magic before tomorrow night’s recording.

I’m not really complaining about how hard this can be because we do TMA on the cheap and easy – a single Skype recording that I edit and clean the sound on. No trying to integrate different files from different users. This morning’s Polycast was about two hours of recording and Quick will try to salvage an hour or so from it, I suppose. Lots of editing, lots of cutting. The sorts of things I have little patience for. If I had to do video, I’d simply go mad.

This E3, however, will be even looser. The show is in three weeks and, just like last year, Tom Chick will be the only other TMAer there. But we will be recording more E3 content, probably in the form of mini-shows as well as a longer one. Still playing it by ear, of course, but I did manage to get a third chair for the show: Jenn Cutter will be there and as one of my best friends she couldn’t say no to the chance to come back. (She is a frequently requested return guest.)

So what do you want to hear about at E3 2010? The strategy pickings are a little sparse, but then they always are nowadays. Fill the comment box with suggestions on the sorts of things you want us to talk about in 20 minute chunks in LA.

I promise not to record from the show floor this year.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • frags

    What about what Tom(or was it Rob) said in last weeks podcast? How not to(or how to) market a strategy game. Seeing that it’s E3 and all that, how does a strategy game developer get attention in a conference such as that or in general, with other genres having more spiffy graphics and all that?

    Not sure if you guys are into discussing the business side of things.

  • Gunner

    Thanks again for the great show Troy et al. Through your list of characteristics above I found myself nodding along saying “yes, these are the reasons I love TMA so much.” Especially the “not a show that pretends we are less mature or more amusing than we are”. So often podcasts (and strangely enough, television sports shows) have a crew of people that look like they’re having a very good time themselves, but offer nothing I’d like to actually sit through.

    Concerning E3, here would be my strategy-centered list:

    1. Civilization 5 – concentrating on their plans regarding modding, Steam, and the potential interaction between the two. Steam offers a fantastic opportunity to expose a greater portion of the player base to the modding community which is, for me at least, the best part of the Civ experience. Valve has been going along similar lines with their offering of several Source engine mods such as Eternal Silence, Riot Act, and Empires officially through Steam.

    Also, what’s the deal with switching to Lua from Python for their scripting language? They’re in danger of not being one of the cool kids anymore in programming circles if you ask me. ;)

    2. Commander: Conquest of the Americas – I have high hopes from this one considering the state of East India Company which was a great first effort that seemed like it needed just a bit more polish and experience behind it. What are they doing to address the shortcomings of EIC and expand it to be even better? On top of that, they were friendly and interesting the last time you talked to them in person.

    3. Arcen Games – dunno if Chris Park or some other representative will be there (most likely not), but I’d love to hear really anything from this guy. He’s got a few interesting looking new games in the pipeline and even a for charity only micro-expansion in the works for AI War (http://arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,5308.0.html). Aside from that, Chris would be a great guy to talk to about general game/design issues either in person or on a regular podcast again. He’s got some real gems on the subject sitting in the article archive of his blog.

  • Paul

    Chris tends to drag on and on a bit for podcasts though (at least he did when TMA interviewed him last time). I love AI War though and would love to hear TMA revisit it with maybe Chris or someone else at Arcen Games.

    As far as E3 goes, if Paradox have more information about Victoria 2 and the upcoming Semper Fi HOI 3 expansion pack I’d love to hear about them.

    Also Stardock’s Elemental: War of Magic, and specifically mechanics of how combat will work compared to the Civ V route. Obviously besides the fantasy magic differences, I mean mechanics kind of differences such as how they combat the Stack of Doom problem other turn-based strategy games have.

  • Jon

    I concur with my fellow gamers on what they’ve listed above, particularly in regards to Civ5 and Elemental. In a similar vein, there was word recently that the guys who did Fall from Heaven 2 are putting together a game of their own that isn’t connected to Civ at all. Anything about that endeavor would be appreciated.

    (Just get Tom on the case. He may love FFH2 more than anyone.)

    Is Jon Hawkins and KE Studios going to be in attendance? That Battlecruiser game he mentioned as his next project sounded quite good, but I haven’t heard or read a word about it since he was on Episode 4.

    For that matter, what ever happened to the Matrix Games conversion of the old ADG World in Flames wargame? I played the dice and chits version a couple of times nearly 20 years ago, and I’ve always thought that it would work well automated. It was a decent game, but the logistics of setting it up and managing to keep it untouched on someone’s table for months made it hard to keep a game going. Get a PC to handle all that, and it becomes much more manageable. If the Matrix version isn’t ever coming out, I’d like to know so I can quit getting my hopes up. If it is, I’d like to know when.

    Those are what I’d consider my burning issues. Anything you could dig up on those would make me a happy listener.


  • Troy

    E3 is mostly for the big players, so no Chris Park. Stardock has decided that E3 just isn’t worth the investment in time and money.

    Strategy companies that will be there? 2k/Firaxis, Paradox, Kalypso…the Battlegoat team though I’m not sure if they are showing.

  • Otagan

    If the Battlegoats are there and they happen to announce their new project, I’d be interested in at least a brief set of impressions on it. Other than that, info on the Paradox projects (Victoria 2 in particular) would be much appreciated.

    Anything else would be the icing on the already rather delicious cake.

  • Oak

    re: Kalypso, I’d love to hear any details on Patrician 4 and whether Haemimont will be doing anything else with Tropico.