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New Circle of Healing Podcast Episodes 3 and 3.5 Are Out

Posted by Malevica on July - 30 - 2010

Recently I put up a review of the Circle of Healing Podcast, a Priest-slanted healing podcast by Dawn Moore of WoW.com, Matt Low (a.k.a. Matticus of World of Matticus and WoW.com), and Jerome “Kinaesthesia” Phillips of the US guild Vodka.

At that time I felt that there were some wrinkles which needed to be ironed out, but that there was a lot of promise in the podcast. After a short break because Dawn apparently had some computer problems, they’re back and have released episodes 3 and 3.5 (a shortened one without Matt Low), and the website (http://www.circleofhealingpodcast.com/) has also gone live. Since the quality of these two episodes is way higher, I wanted to return to the subject and give them an updated review.

I had a couple of main criticisms at the time. The first was more technical, in that there were some issues with hearing the contributors and with them hearing each other, and the volume normalisation was a bit iffy in places (Kina was very loud, Dawn was very quiet). The second was that the discussion didn’t feel quite as smooth as I personally prefer, with contributors sometimes drifting off on tangents or seeming distracted.

I’m pleased to report that these last two episodes have really stepped things up a notch. The technical niggles have been sorted out now and everyone is clearly audible, and no one made my ears bleed when they spoke.
More importantly, the dialogue between all three (or two) contributors feels a lot more fluid. I personally feel that a podcast should, if not hide, then at least not draw attention to the fact that these people are sitting in different cities, states or even countries; the dialogue should flow as if they were sitting having a chat to each other (and with us). In these latter two episodes there’s some genuine three-way discussion happening, which makes the podcast come alive somehow.

I’ve also been really enjoying the content. It’s great to have a couple of high-end raiders on the panel in Dawn and Kina, and it’s nice to have someone whose raiding experience is more towards the average experience of the audience (with apologies to Matt, I couldn’t find a better way of phrasing that!) to represent another point of view. As I said in the previous review, these are people who play WoW and heal passionately and collectively they have a huge amount of knowledge they can share and this podcast is a great vehicle for it.

The last question I had about the podcast from episodes 1 and 2 was the question of where it was aimed: healing in general or Priests specifically. It’s pretty much settled on being a Priest healing podcast, with general healing topics being hit on as they crop up. That’s fine: I started this blog intending to be a healing generalist but ended up writing almost exclusively about Priests (although there’s some more general interest articles around the place) but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re not interested in in-depth discussions of Priest talent trees or mechanics you might be needing your fast-forward button a bit.

Anyway now the quality has stepped right up and the podcast is really hitting its stride, I’d unequivocally recommend that you go and check out the Circle of Healing Podcast, and submit your questions to the panel so Dawn, Kina and Matt don’t have to make up any more!

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Categories: Opinion

Circle of Healing Podcast

Posted by Malevica on June - 30 - 2010

I have a few chunkier posts in the works, including looking at Heroic Sindragosa and levelling in the middle levels, but since they’re not done and there’s been a bit of a gap lately, here’s a quick comment on the new Circle of Healing Podcast.

Recently Dawn Moore (WoW.com’s healing priest columnist and Disc Priest), Matt Low (a.k.a Matticus, of World of Matticus, the sadly-neglected NoStockUI and WoW.com), and Kinaesthesia of the US guild Vodka released the first two editions of their new healing podcast. I had a listen through the episodes and wanted to give my thoughts.

If you prefer to make up your own mind before reading other people’s thoughts, you can find an introduction and download links at World of Matticus. Just remember that these are very early episodes.

The first thing to say is that it’s great to have another way to access information on healing. The podcast is quite accessible, and wisely tends to steer clear of trying to present complex technical information in an audio medium, while still giving a fairly in-depth discussion of the healing issues and topics. It’s also a good way to keep up to date with the big upcoming changes for healers and their implications, although it’s not aiming to be a news-focused show.

However it’s early days and it’s very much not a finished product yet, which unfortunately shows. The golden rule for content creation (blogs, podcasts, videos, anything like that) is to produce the first three, file them quietly away, and begin your public releases with the fourth one. The thing is that there will be technical issues, stylistic shifts and just a general development of personal interactions in the first few episodes, and in theory these will settle down by episode 4. You can always re-record and re-use the content later.

For example, in the first podcast Kinaesthesia had trouble being heard on the VoIP solution they were using for the podcast, something which the listener probably didn’t need to be made so acutely aware of.
The presenters also seemed a little uncertain about when to speak, wary of talking over each other, and the exchanges felt a little stilted. Some podcasts get over this by having a parallel text chat (inaudible to the microphones) running for cueing, but whatever means you choose, this is something you can best hammer out in the early episodes before you go public.

The other thing that bothered me a lot about the podcast was that the presenters, Matt in particular, seemed to be doing other things during the recording. At one point Matt had to have a question repeated because he wasn’t aware what he was responding to, sounding like he just wasn’t listening. Edit it cleverly if you like, but at least maintain the illusion that the presenters are paying attention to the discussion and each other.

I suppose this is partly a stylistic thing, and some people will undoubtedly enjoy the quirky, slightly haphazard, frequently tangential and very laid-back approach, it’s just not what I prefer to listen to.

The final caveat I have is that all three presenters are Priests, one Holy and two Discipline (although Matt plays both), with limited experience of other classes. Hopefully they will settle soon on whether they will just stick to Priests or incorporate other classes as regular guest presenters, otherwise I fear that they may struggle for credibility a bit.

Wow, that sounded pretty rough! It’s not all bad by any means.

By the second episode all the technical niggles seemed to have been ironed out and the discussion of the new Priest talent trees was quite interesting, with a more fluid and informative discussion taking place. The listeners’ questions section also promises to be quite valuable, once people are submitting questions for real.

Dawn, Matt and Jerome (Kinaesthesia) are people who are playing their healers at quite a high level, with a good understanding of the class, so it is a valuable resource, and definitely one to keep an eye on.

On the whole I expect the podcast to settle down from here, and the presenters to get into their stride, so I’d recommend keeping an eye out for future episodes. There’s great potential in a healing podcast, and the niggles I have are really more superficial than deal-breaking.

The website is still under development as I write this, but the links from World of Matticus will let you listen the first couple of episodes for yourself.
The podcast is also apparently on iTunes under the Video Games section of Games and Hobbies, or if you prefer regular RSS there’s a feed as well.

Oh, final point of feedback, please make the volume louder and better-normalised on the mp3. I found I had to turn it up very high to hear, and then someone’s laugh will be almost deafening. Small point, but being able to hear the podcast over traffic is handy!

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Categories: Opinion