An Open Letter


The format of Podcast 17 is changing and we need your help! We have spent some time during last week trying to decide on a new format and we came to the following conclusions:

  1. Podcast 17 is stagnating – The format is becoming too familiar and is becoming a little boring to listen to.
  2. Podcast 17 is just a regurgitation of ModDB or PlanetPhillip – We are beginning to concentrate less on discussion and more on just spitting the news out each week. This makes for a very uninteresting show.
  3. Podcast 17 is getting too long – With every week we add more and more links to the agenda making it impossible for both the co hosts and listeners to keep up to date.
  4. The hosts and co hosts often show up unprepared – It’s true and we will be the first to admit it. Everyone at Podcast 17 has lives outside of the show, and even though that isn’t an excuse, it’s hard to cover everything in the detail it deserves.
  5. Too little community involvement – It’s a shame that we don’t involve the listeners as much as we should be. Podcast 17 seems to be revolving around the opinions of a selected few individuals instead of grabbing the opinions of the community as a whole.

So with all that said we hope to experiment and decide on a new show format. If you have listened to Episode #74 you will hear that we have made the first steps towards this goal, but we are far from reaching a final decision.

A lot of people have been asking me what I hope to accomplish with Podcast 17 and initially I wanted Podcast 17 to be a weekly round-up of the news and events in the modding community. Now, however, I’m starting to realize how detrimental that is to the shows integrity. Why listen to a two hour Podcast each week only to hear the same things you can read from various sites across the Internet? This is not an option for the future.

I still value each and every news post created by various mod teams around the community sphere, but unfortunately I don’t think we can continue to cover them as we have been in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I believe mod teams should continue to update us on the progress of their creations, but I believe Podcast 17 is becoming something different than “a news outlet”.

We tossed around various ideas on how to restructure Podcast 17… I suggested I do a quick 20min run down of the news “Evening News Style” just stating the facts then after-wards I would be joined by the co hosts of the show in a discussion period, but after careful consideration we decided that this solved nothing. We would still be regurgitating news every week and a portion of the Podcast would continue to be stagnated and boring.

Episode #74 is our proposed “pseudo-new format” – for those who listened we want to know what you thought and for those who didn’t, I kindly ask for you to listen and tell us if you have any suggestions or comments. In that episode I choose 2-4 things I was interested in and I asked Wills and Nick (aka Bluefire) to do the same. We simply started the episode with some basic “Podcast 17 News” and went straight into the discussion of the highlights of the week. We monitored some of the opinions of the the listeners in the steam chat and after the interview with DuckSauce we jumped right into the Post-show game session.

So you might be asking yourself… what about all the other news items from the week? What happens to them? Well, they still exist on the agenda and show-notes, but we just didn’t have time to cover them. That’s not to say that they “aren’t worthy of your time”; it just means they just weren’t any of our favourite items of the week. In the near-future episodes we hope to include “extended” show-notes for each episode with a better view of the weeks news with snippets of each item.

None of these changes mean anything without listener input. I can’t stress this enough, we need your suggestions/comments/complaints/flames… whatever… tell us how you think we should format Podcast 17. Use the comments feature below to post your suggestions/ideas or if your concerns are a little more personal feel free to email us at feedback@podcast17.com

So with that said, I hope you enjoy the coming changes and please bare with us while we find our new groove.

Regards,
William — Owner/Operator, Podcast 17.

25 Responses to “An Open Letter”

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24 Comments

Here’s food for thought: Although I agree it would be ludicrous to cover all the news items as you did in the past, why not just continue to post the links to all the mod coverage of the week as you’ve always done? Whether you actually talk about it or not, your list of media blitz links is still probably the most nicely organized weekly mod coverage anywhere on the web.

The full agendas are linked at the right of each episode post, below the mp3 download links. The contents are the same as would be mentioned during the show under the old format.

We’re toying with the idea of recording a separate news roundup late in the week, where two hosts—probably William and one other—quickly run through the week’s news. Then posting it up with a brief text summary of each item on Saturday evening.

I’ll make a blog post with more information sometime either tomorrow or Thursday, and have William mention it on next weeks episode to try gauge interest in the idea. We should have reached a decision by Episode #77 or #78.

NEW IDEA

If you ever need a new host, have a competition where someone joins the show for one night and after a few people have been on people vote for their fave

Well, this is bound to be a lengthy comment (whenever I comment on any site anywhere, it turns into an essay of epic proportions).

I’ve been listening to Podcast 17 for a year or so, and I can’t say that my enjoyment of it has really faltered at all over time. Every week I look forward to having my hour or so of mod news gathered up and commented on by William, Emmanuel, Dave… and it’s really entertaining and informative. It never really felt like a broken setup to me, but I can see why you might feel like it needs some fixing.

I’m going to start by defending what I like about the current setup:

*The length of the shows has always been great for me. It’s rarely so long that it becomes monotonous, and it’s long enough that it feels worth the week’s wait. When I see that a new Podcast 17 has been posted I put on my headphones and start working on maps or school work, using half of my brain to listen to mod news and the other half of my brain for work and such. Also, like I said, since it’s usually over an hour in length, I don’t feel like I have to wait for a next update for my next 5-10 minute update. Every update is packed with content and leaves me satisfied with my fill.

*In response to the idea that PC17 is becoming a regurgitation of mod news outlets, I find this actually helpful. I find it saves me time to listen to an hour long podcast that tells me just about everything that mattered in a week’s worth of mod/valve updates and even when I do keep track of Moddb and PlanetPhillip the podcast still seems to find stuff that I haven’t heard of yet. Also, probably the best part of PC17 is the discussion on the news, which always seems to be kept short but is always a good insight. It’s better to hear the opinions of William, Emmanel, and Glenn when they’re discussing than the mod community because more often than not the giant accumulation of people will have different tastes than the individual. The best way for me to find out if I would like something is hearing a conversation between 2-3 people whose tastes in games I’ve already been familiarized with. Also it seems more common during the discussions for a host of Podcast17 to give good examples than for somebody in a comments section on Moddb (there’s good people out there, but it’s looking for Goldfish in a sea of piss – as is the entire internet). Where if I look at the community of Moddb I see loads of people who like/dislike every game, I can look at Podcast17 and get the opinions of people whose interests I can compare to my own, since I’ve been listening to them for around a year.

I was going to put more asterisks, but the second one kinda turned into a rant that addressed pretty much everything else I wanted.

That being said, there can always be improvements. Even if you were to get what may seem to be a perfect setup, there can always be improvements. It seems like the most obvious thing to look to is planning the pacing a little better, stuff like that, but I feel like that would make the show less organic and interesting.

I’d really like to give some suggestions for improvements but everything that I think of seems either like it would have more negative effects than positive or it would just simply not change anything at all.

So I guess the best advice I’m coming out of this with is don’t try to fix any of it unless you’re sure it’s broken? Crap, that’s not very helpful at all :\

Oh well. Also, don’t beat yourself up too much about being unprepared for your podcasts. You’re making podcasts for free to fill everybody in on news about videogames, there’s no need to feel so formal about it. In my recollection your unpreparedness has yet to put any podcasts into a serious jam, so as long as that doesn’t happen what’s the problem?

-John

I’ve been feeling that some changes should be made to the format for a few episodes now. I’m glad the giant rundown of mod updates has been trimmed down to a select few. It was seeming redundant seeing as how I usually check moddb on a daily basis anyway. One of the reasons I love when Philip is on the show (aside from enjoying his voice) is because he usually has interesting mod ideas & commentary on game mechanics, design & even smaller things like cursing in games. These kinds of things are far more interesting to me as someone who enjoys both playing & designing games rather than something like discussing matte paint on a car.

I also think that the interview portions of the show could be improved as well.
Some pre-planned questions could make things go a little smoother & drag a bit less, if it already is than it might not hurt to give them most of the questions a day or so in advance to think about it. Everyone seemed like they were struggling to find the right words for what they wanted to say. (also DuckSauce sounded a little too quite)

I think I’ve only made it to one live recording to date, so ever since I first started listening around the middle of last year I’ve really had no sense of what was being said in the steam chat.(Even though I really wasn’t missing out on anything) I got the idea of having call-ins like you’d hear on a regular radio talk show, where a few listeners could comment on some of the news, ask a question or two(maybe even to that episode’s guest) promote their own mod a little, or ask the community for some help. Not the best idea, but it’s something to consider.

I hope you go back to the old way of organizing the time spot thing. I found it very hard to find where certain segments were that I wanted to hear. There is really no need to try and make it witty and fun, like.

Crossposted from recent podcast, with extra musings:

======

I like the new format, concentrating on your 3-4 favourite posts of the week certainly allows for more discussion which is good. It was getting a bit stale rushing through 30 odd mods and briefly saying the update content, one comment and moving on.

Having a good 4-5 minutes chat on each one is much better and your comments on HaJ are appreciated and understood. New format is certainly more useful to us as you actually talk about stuff and discuss issues etc.

However I can see some of the smaller mods that don’t impress/impact the guys on the show getting a little miffed that they never get covered. Perhaps a mid week roundup/quick burst like you originally suggested to cover all this, 30 mins tops with William +1 guest giving their brief thoughts. You could also limit how often stuff gets mentioned, say 1 mod can only be discussed once every x weeks, this would provide variety in the content hopefully.

I have been listening for about six months. I really like the new format.

Biggest complaint is the length of the show. I love you guys but seriously cannot listen to the whole thing. No offense to the interviewees, but the interviews usually drag on and become boring. I really don’t want to sound ungrateful, it’s interesting to hear, but it would be much more enjoyable if the interviews were condensed… hard line to walk.

There is a reason why mainstream broadcasts are commonly 1 hour in length… it’s hard to digest and focus on anything longer. Tighten things up to keep it 1 hour.

I guess my other complaint is time dedicated to each topic… but that’s entirely random from week-to-week. For instance, we had a shitload of stuff happening with Portal and GDC, you could have dedicated the entire show to Portal… it’s not often we get stuff from Valve, so savor it. Having call-ins is a good way to have a bunch of fresh/contrasting opinions.

Keep up the good work.

I think we need to add articles made by regular people that talk about there ideas of mods and talking about what is a good mod.

I started listening to Podcast 17 somewhere in the sixties. I don’t mind the length listening to the recorded version, although when I listen in live it is annoying. Originally I loved the old format since I was fairly new to Mod DB and Planet Phillip however it slowly became more and more stale when I realized the news didn’t change much. Just focusing on discussing interesting news in my humble opinion is a much better format. Reading through all the news and trying to fit in a discussion on the more juicy topics while still keeping the podcast to a reasonable length doesn’t work.

People being able to call in, but I could see how this could be bad if some one has a terrible Mic or worse, or just pick some one you trust from the modding community, that isn’t big or on the show a lot, to be on the show to spice it up.

More improv, like when you guys go off and talk about what would you like to see in this mod, rather then what is already in it.

Community emails, where the viewers send and email with a question in it to the hosts of that podcast 17 and the hosts pick their favorite questions and answer then.

Pre show, DURING show, Post show enough said.

There would be less of a delay and a need for a capacity if you could find a way to use the steam voice chat and record it, probably near impossible :P.

Variety, Guests like Ross Scot really spice it up, they don’t have to be big, but it doesn’t always have to be a mod Dev spewing out stuff about what his mod is as if we don’t already know what it is.

You can ask a question to the listeners, they respond, you read out what ever responses you like the best.

The delay is fine during the podcast, but during the post show it’s confusing and hard to respond to.

FORCE the guests to be more talkative, and maybe talk more before the actual interview.

Having an odd man out is good :P, Emanuel

I want less round table, more square table: Having every one in agreement that it’s an omfg good mod, isn’t super interesting, having

Well, what about inviting every week a new live listener.This would change the view partly, becasue a Mod-User has a different perspective as a modder.It would make the show more interesting, regarding that there would be a new guy every week and not just the same guys every week(noi offense).

So one of my ideas is to invite a listener to the podcast to speak about a certain topic or mod.Maybe a mailing type when a person send a email to lets say… Podcast17usermail@gmail.com and you read it and answer it.Both ways you have more action with the community of P17.
By doing this i think it will have more opinions then just 4 guys views on this.

I think the show should be more like an open forum, not reading from a script, just talking about how you guys feel about mods and news happening. It would be nice if you actually talked in the post show games not stayed in your private and delayed skype calls. Also you dont have to force the conversation to move to the next mod, if you get off track it just keeps things entertaining. To keep things short you dont have to have interviews every week either. Viewers calling in could be nice if done in moderation, and we definatly need less foxholeboy.

The talking in Skype during the post-show match was entirely my fault, and I do apologize for that. I was thinking that since the live stream was still going, I could stay in the Skype call and everything would be fine, but I wasn’t aware of the delay since we don’t personally hear it. Next time (if there is a next time), I’ll be sure to end the Skype call and use the in-game voice chat instead.

I very much enjoyed the new format but here’s a few more suggestions

1. Podcast 17 needs more foxholeboy

2. Some sort of call in feature so the listeners can voice their opinion on a mod or bring a discussion point to discuss with the host

3. Podcast 17 needs more foxholeboy

4. On the same note as point 2, maybe a guest every week from the p17 community who is willing to talk about the mods with the regular hosts, could help get a bigger opinion on mods

5. Involving the interviewees more in the main show, alot of the times I remember the interviewees not talking about any of the other mod releases which is a shame because they probably have some good insight

6. More Wills and Bluefire

7. Podcast 17 needs more foxholeboy

@foxholeboy:
I second (2), (4) and (5). They really amp up the involvement of the community, and this is a plus for any show, not just for PC17.
The agenda of the show should be as easy to access as possible; this is a MUST if you want the community questions/input to be on topic. Spam it, if you will, but make sure the community is well informed on what will be discussed.

As for (3) and (7), I suspect foxholeboy is biased ;)

The format from today 15/3/10 (for me) seemed to keep my attention better, but at least a quick read off of news relevant to the podcast would be nice in the future. oh and for the want of cookies: MOAR Willis and Bluefire!!!

It’s definitely important to include all the relevant modding news. The new format did help to condense down the show by only discussing select articles on the agenda. Though personally I’m not concerned about the length of the show, and I believe that is the same for most of the listeners. The regurgitation of other community news isn’t an issue for me at all. Really it means that I don’t have to follow those other sources because they’re collated and presented nicely in Podcast 17.

Mod news updates should definitely be prioritised for discussion by quality and quantity of content. Also it could be best to avoid to go into discussion on the same mod week after week even if they have in-depth weekly updates unless absolutely necessary. If this is the format to be followed then it works.

In all honesty Steam and Valve game updates should be cut from the agenda. We don’t need to hear about minor bug fixes when everybody can easily see these for themselves in Steam and most likely already has. Your listeners are developers and mod players. Consideration needs to be made for what is the most suitable and interesting content and news for them. Todays show definitely took Podcast 17 in a more concise direction.

A wider variety of guests and talkers from the modding community would be great.

I care about the length, I can’t sit in my damn chair forever and neither can most of the live listeners. :D

Yeah but you can always listen to the mp3 release if you miss parts or don’t have time. Isn’t that the point in podcasts? :P I agree that they shouldn’t be approaching 2 hours like they used to.. but I like a good hour at least.

Firstly, I would like to say that although Podcast 17 could be seen as regurgitation of things people could just read, some people do prefer to “hear” the news. I for one rarely read huge news posts, simply because I don’t have the patience. I would much rather watch a video, or listen to an interview or something.
Listening to the beginning of the Podcast before the interview was a great change, and felt very fresh and new :) I really liked hearing the quite detailed discussions about the favourite items of the week, but I think that the the “From the mouth of Valve” section should be covered slightly, even if its just a quick 10 minute read through or something.
An idea that could get the community more involved, would be to host more regular events, rather than just a post game session each week. I know that everyone is busy, and has outside lives, but on a big mod release, there could be an event during the week where we all come together and give it a go, throw opinions at each other, etc.
So to sum up my opinions, I think that this change was needed, and was pretty successful, and with a few tweaks could make Podcast 17 feel like a whole fresh new show :)

New format is great i feel the show could benefit from more special guest hosts as well as your show interview.
Maybe some audience interaction by way of sending in messages but obviously in a way where it will not leave hosts being spammed to high buggery.

A high emphasis on all things half life is great but i will admit my main reason for listening in is to hear condensed information about mods.

Im gonna end this short comment by basically saying i have always enjoyed P17 and “if it aint broke dont fix it!”