Friday, February 27, 2009

Quick Hits: World of Warcast #78

25th February, 2009

As has been mentioned on this blog we're all burned out listening to Love is in the Air talk and I was hoping I'd be able to avoid it here since the event had ended but no dice. After just two minutes Renata said Love is in the Air has caused a lot of bellyaching and then Starman basically went off on the Random Number Generator for about 15 minutes. I tried to zone out during this time. The inclusion of Cryler on the show was a little disorienting for me; I've heard World of Warcast in the past and think I prefer it when Renata speaks of Cryler and he takes on this sort of mythical presence in my mind. He seemed a little too humble for me.

Disliked the three of them then giggling during Starman's story of playing "who's the noob" during the first corner in Ramparts. Just dislike that attitude in general I'm the sort to clue the new player in so everyone can improve. And then he's like "and I try not to be a jerk" in this whiny exasperated tone that sort of sounds like what a jerk might say. He went on to say later when speaking about being frustrated by sensible and suspicious PUG'ers daring to question his credentials as a player that he wasn't being obnoxious because other obnoxious people had cried about it on the WoW forums and everyone else was just ignorant. Sounds a little harsher when I type that then it sounded though, keep in mind.

That whole time from about 20 minutes until 40 minutes I would have cut as they're just ragging on new or unskilled players or how overpowered Death Knights are. Renata defined "noob" as someone "who was ignorant and preferred to stay that way." I doubt it's always quite so simple. What if you're in Jim's boat and all your friends are horrible in the game and you can't find a proper mentor? He's a level 80 noob then, despite his best honest effort.

Starman makes a decent point about Death Knight professions though and how silly it is that you have to start from 0, "a hero that apparently did nothing" is I believe how he put it which put a smile on my face.

Renata did a nice bit on Borean Tundra which is a new server that opened within the last three months although I was a bit disappointed about the ending, which was just that the economy eventually normalized just like every other realm and people started to twink alts with their 80s. Not sure what the shock there was.

Had to shake my head. An hour still left on the podcast. I wasn't feeling it.

Summary: Didn't make it past 45 minutes. I got depressed for some reason when Renata said "I did every trick I could think of and some that I didn't even know that I had" when bragging about healing Scarlet Monestary on a Shadow-specced priest. Will try again at a later date; maybe it was the rain today.

The Greater Good: Hypocrisy Trends Well

Are you noticing some strange trends around the WoW podcasting community?

After slogging through what seemed an eternity of shows registering the same complaints about the Love is in the Air achievements, particularly the sinister drop rates on the "bag of candy" (pleased I won't have to hear those charming words again for a year), I'm simultaneously catching the vibe that these same podcasters dislike the fact that Blizzard has been capitulating to the demands of "QQers." I'm catching this vibe because they're saying as much, sometimes one right after the other. On top of that the hypocrisy has been compounded by the fact that some of the complaining has come from folks who claim not to care about achievements at all!

It's enough to make you step back and really look at yourself and wonder if writing about such shallow, artificial people (or, more optimistically, people just ignorant and self-absorbed enough not to realize what they're saying) and calling them out by name is appropriate or even worth it. Does it serve the greater good ("the greater good!") which is what we're all about? Are our reviews actually going to help anything or just contribute to the problem?

As we got into a bit last week around the community everyone's view of a "good" podcast varies. It is common sense to assume that just because a show has a lot of listeners doesn't automatically mean the show is "good" in the same way a show isn't automatically "bad" because they throw in some flashy production values and solid editing. It's also common sense to note that listeners may not know what they're saying. This isn't an insult, but a reality of education, overall time spent listening to podcasts, experience in life, experience in the medium, etc..

But where do we start drawing the auto-line? Hypocritical hosts? Should we call out shows who go against the missions stated on their own websites or should we just laugh these silly matters off because shows are supposed to be "entertainment" first and everthing else second?

It's hard when theorizing about this to remember we're talking about a computer game.

I felt compelled to post this basically as the last disclaimer, before any negative reviews have been posted here at UWoW. I want everyone to know, as I think I've written before, that the reviews are only the opinions of one person on one particular day. That's the way we're taking your podcast and we're spending valuable time listening to it so please give us the courtesy of doing the same.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In the Chamber: World of Warcast; Live Instance Tonight

The only new WoW podcast to come down the pike this morning when I fired up the ol' iTunes was Episode 78 of World of Warcast so pretty excited to give it a listen now that the wave of Love is in the Air episodes should be over. Toothy said via text that he wants to do a Quick Hit on it and said he feels some pressure to give the first bad review after what he said were "soft touches" from Melissa and Pete Pete. Toothy has said on numerous occasions that aside from being a dentist the whole reason he chose the name "Toothy" was specifically "because my reviews are going to have bite."

So I don't know if he's going to actually be serious or if his entire review is going to be satire or what he has in store for us but surely it will be uniquely Toothy. And I should probably just apologize to Starman and Renata up front so many apologies for the yet unwritten!

Just saw a Tweet from Scott Johnson that there will be a new Instance podcast tonight so be sure to check that out live. Barring unforseen circumstances a couple of us will probably be lurking around the live chat (as usual) so be sure to say hi!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Basic UWoW Logo

Here's a first pass at a basic, political bumper-sticker style logo:

You can't go wrong with simple.

Melissa says "more to follow."

Quick Hits: Epic Dolls Welcomes Katerina

15th February, 2009

Bad timing for me to be looking to review Epic Dolls as Leala was away and new co-host Katerina had to debut all on her own. I have only ever heard bits and pieces of previous Epic Dolls episodes and without them having their full team together I felt it would be a bit unfair to do a full-out review of the podcast right now so here's a "Quick Hit."

What I did hear from Salty Kat sounded great. She seemed very comfortable behind the microphone and you could certainly hear her natural enthusiasm for World of Warcraft in her voice. She didn't seem nervous to me and despite her saying that it was the first time she had ever podcasted she actually sounded like she had been there plenty of times before. I thought it was really classy that in the opening three minutes she recounted listening to a bit from The Grind as they were speaking about Rae, the person that Kat is replacing on Epic Dolls, and what big shoes Kat has to fill. Kat was highly complimentary of Rae and disclosed that Rae is the only podcaster that Kat has ever sent a fan email to! Now that's the proper way to introduce yourself!

Nice to hear that Kat is into fishing. While I know many people seem to think fishing is the deadliest snooze-fest in the game, duller than, say, grinding 20 slow-respawning mobs for a quest turn-in, I have been doing a lot of fishing on my Blood Elves lately so maybe some tips from Kat will rub off. I think it would be nice if she did a little fishing corner of the show even though I might be in the minority on that. I think the thing I really like the most about fishing right now is that you always have this little hint of excitement in the knowledge that at any given time you could get the rarest of the rare catch! Keep hope alive!

Is there a podcast out there dedicated to fishing in WoW? Does that Eli's Extreme Anglin' guy do a show? Please let me know if so.

Otherwise an Epic Dolls with a solo Kat doing her first show went by like a breeze. Some of the same information/speculation we heard on dual specs from other places was also present here but anytime the game is patched or the PTR goes up information is always immediately outdated. So there's a little of that going on in this episode if you're wondering about repeat-ability but part of that is my fault for listening 10 days after release.

Summary: Kat's introduction is worth the listen. Extra points for use of the word "spoonerism."

Quick Hits: BRK Buries the Lead

20th February, 2009

It was with great sadness that many of us read about the staff changes at WoW Insider, particularly the news that BigRedKitty had wandered from the pack. In the comments for that announcement I thought it was interesting that Sar thought Mike Schramm was pissed at BRK. I have noticed recently that there was definitely what I'll call an "audible change in attitude" from Mike time to time when it came to things BRK during the WoW Insider Show. But rather than jealousy or anything silly like that I always figured it was just impatience. Like Mike almost resents BRK's "gimmick" because Mike doesn't need a gimmick. This is just all speculative nonsense you see, but I at least felt validated when I saw that comment that I wasn't "hearing too much into things" on this issue (as Melissa likes to say about me).

In a classic case of burying the lead, BRK gives you in Episode Fourteen of the BRK Podcast a classic one-sentence half-hour that rationalizes taking lower DPS because you have a love of pets. Actually he does slow things down a bit and waxes philosophical but at the 33:20 point he coyly lets slip:

"As you may have heard, we are no longer writing for WoW Insider, that is correct. "

Apparently BRK will be doing his thing over at Project Lore so we'll be sure to check that out and keep our eyes open about what's going on there. But really BRK, tacking that on as a quick addendum at the end of the podcast? Here's why I love pets so much and by the way, I won't be podcasting about hunters anymore? A sad day indeed. Jim even texted me a sad faced smiley because he rolled a Beastmaster hunter just because BRK told him to (not personally, of course), and Jim is not one prone to emotion.

What is it going to mean for the WoW Insider Show? It's going to be a big hole. But they've had fine shows without BRK in the past and they'll have fine shows again I'm sure. In my opinion BRK only ever added to the dialogue, especially his repeated characterization of Paladins as "cockroaches" which I've wholly adopted and use quite frequently in my normal WoW vocabulary.

Here's hoping for the best for both parties involved.

Summary: Burying the lead bad, BRK good!

More on "The Code"

We've been refining The Code and we've agreed to set it up like this for now (keep in mind this is always in flux):

#1 There shall be a 100% honesty guarantee among the UWoW members. In other words, when we address each other either in person or otherwise we are required to be brutally honest with each other and we've agreed not to take it personally. Taking it personally shall be considered a violation of The Code.

#2 During the week (Monday through Friday) we will make all efforts not to speak with each other in person. Email communications of 5,000 words or less are acceptable, as are quick texts. There shall be exceptions for brief greetings such as "hey" or "hello" so as not to be rude but no sustained conversations will be tolerated. Extended conversations either in-person or on the phone and electronic notes above the email word limit shall be considered violations of the code.

#3 On weekends (Saturday and Sunday) it shall be permissible to speak with other UWoW members either in person or on the phone, or in emails longer than 5,000 words. This is not a requirement but an option.

#4 The Code can be amended at any time by a majority vote. Jim shall always get the last vote to act as tiebreaker but he will also be given an opportunity to voice his feelings about an issue prior to any votes being cast. Unless he violates The Code repeatedly Jim will remain the tiebreaker until he gives it up on his own accord.

#5 Any violation of the code means the offending party must post a "Respect 'The Code,' Man!" post admitting their guilt and outlining their plan to make amends.

#6 Repeated violations of The Code will lead to the suspension of writing privileges here at UWoW and possible excommunication (this includes Jim [or whoever is "the tiebreaker"]).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the Works!

Lots of good stuff underway behind the scenes here at UWoW so I wanted to post a quick update since Jim hasn't approved any of the reviews for the site yet.

This weekend the five of us went on a trip to New York City and basically just wandered around. We stopped into Generation Records on Thompson Street to make sure it was still there. Apparently while Jim was an aspiring hardcore fan he used to buy Krishna hardcore there. And I had always wanted to go there because while growing up in California I had heard about how integral NYC, Generation Records and the late, great CBGBs had been to the punk scene. Next we grabbed a drink at Toothy's suggestion at Nevada Smiths which is an English football pub on 3rd Avenue even though he wasn't allowed to drink due to his age (he had a coffee). We spent some of the afternoon browsing the books at Shakespeare & Co. on Broadway and had an amazing lunch at the Cub Room. And what would a trip to NYC be for a bunch of RPG geeks without a stop at The Compleat Strategist?

Basically, we spent a lot of the weekend away from World of Warcraft, if you can believe that! We still had a few organizational issues that were up in the air that we wanted to discuss in person. Like, will each of us author a weekly column? How many reviews exactly are we going to do per week? Should each of the five of us have a pool of specific podcasts that only we listen to or should we rotate reviewers so different points of view are always being represented? We came to some understandings for the basic framework but haven't solidified anything yet. We hope you'll send us your thoughts on the issues as well either through comments or via email as we'd love for it to be a collaborative experience.

Melissa says that she is going to have a first pass at a logo ready for us soon. She has been consulting with someone about some design ideas and also trying some out herself. Since she's not a professional graphic designer it's taking a bit of a time investment on her part but she's up for the challenge. I think she wants to put up a couple of works-in-progress so we can all have our say on which we like best.

And Jim has another update coming about "The Code," which we were able to get into a bit more detail about since the five of us had time together at the weekend. Essentially we're thrusting Jim into the leadership role whether he wants it or not. Of course I think he is just feigning modesty (this whole blog is his idea after all) and he's secretly angling to be the "star" attraction in a blog with few readers. But, as you'll hear later, The Code should help stop his mad scramble for power (at least, in theory)!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mailbag: Our First (Real) Email!

Here's our first actual email:

Hi -

Just saw your blog looks okay some of the posts are long. Are you going to do a top 10 listing of podcasts?

Michael, horde on Crush Ridge

We've been wondering the same thing ourselves. I'm going to do my best Tim Lovejoy impression now and say to you, Michael, such a list would be so subjective, Michael, that it might not be worth it, Michael. Don't you agree, Michael?

Honestly I think Jim is against the idea and if he's against it then I should be for it just so he can see what it's like being contrary all the time. But I do understand the gaffer's line of thinking on this one who wants a whole mess of petty squabbles and headaches over something that's supposed to be fun? I mean, I could imagine some dumb ranking list overtaking the whole focus of the blog and I don't think any of us really wants that.

Now that the five of us can speak with each other again I reckon we'll find out yea nor nay on the whole list idea. If I had to wager I think we might do a list based on our review scores every once in a while but nothing like a weekly Top 10 list. We do still have lives outside of this and also need to play the game too!

Jim said he had a few emails I think he misremembered about that because that's the only one I saw.

Cheers, Toothy

Mailbag is a weekly column authored by Toothy. If you'd like Toothy to answer your questions email us at or email Toothy directly at

Respect "The Code," Man!

Okay so last Thursday I said that in an effort to avoid unfairly influencing each others' opinions the five of us here at UWoW were going to try not speaking with each other in person unless completely necessary, even though we all live in the same town. As this "code" has developed via email and text over the last week we decided to go a bit more hardcore, drop the "unless completely necessary" part and not communicate with each other at all, except through the blog.

Well, imagine just how dumb of an idea that is when we don't exactly have all of our assignments down and need another brainstorming session or two about our short-term and long-range goals! So for the time being I have decided to suspend "The Code." And since I am the first person to break the code by saying "hello" to Toothy when I saw him at Small World Coffee last night I am being forced by my colleagues to face the blog and admit my guilt. While I cannot say with certainty that I will not ever violate The Code again, I am happy that The Code exists and will try to more faithfully adhere to the ever-changing tenants going forward.

There was some decent discussion and some indecent name-calling yesterday around the community about what makes a good podcast. This really ties in well to discussions we're having right now between the five of us. Is it simply good enough to have people listen and enjoy? Does content always trump production values? Why do some people automatically assume a production is trying too hard or less intelligent or less serious when it actually contains production values like sound effects or music beds to break up segments or silences? When The Instance plays the "Rumors and Scuttlebut" bumper are they reaching too far or being dumb and immature?

These are exactly the sort of questions that interest me and partly why I wanted to start UWoW. The lazy, snobbish generalizations of people who defend podcasts of sub-par audio quality but decent content in one breath and then bash podcasts with decent audio quality and sub-par content in the next. And vice versa. Well, what about the listeners of these podcasts? Is one group or another morons? Do peoople actually turn somewhere specifically for "smarter" WoW podcasting or are they basically just trying to get as much WoW info as possible?

We were delighted to see Shawn Coons mention us in his blog over at Shawn will also go into the UWoW Hall of Fame as the first non-UWoW member to comment directly on the blog itself! I didn't feel compelled to post in his blog but I did post because right now in UWoW's infancy I want my position to be clear so as to avoid any confusion. I know we're brandy new on the scene and as such I'd rather folks know exactly what I'm thinking rather than having them misinterpret a comment without knowing where I'm coming from. I also wanted to make sure folks know I am just one of five voices here and I don't speak for everyone.

We were also happy to see Stompalina comment:

On some level, isn't it good to have the crappy podcasts around to help listeners appreciate the good ones? How else can you truly gauge which ones are good and which ones are bad?

This is a very good point and it's something we're wrestling with right now. What are the common guidelines we're going to use and what should we listen for? Are we going to post a Top 10 list as one of our emailers suggested? If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to comment here or shoot us a note at:

What we've agreed upon is that inside the written review anything goes. It can be as long or as short as the author wants. They can be very general or extremely specific. If they get permission from the podcaster or blogger they can link or embed whatever they want, it's their post and their review.

After the review there is going to be a common element at the bottom of the post that will appear in all of our reviews which will summarize the post and maybe give a number grade from 1-10 in several different aspects of the podcast to come up with a composite score. The aspects that get graded will be dynamic and podcast-specific, so if a podcast doesn't use a lot of production elements they aren't going to get a horrible overall score because of that. We're trying to be as even-handed as possible.

We also know that there are a ton of podcasts out there and that everyone has a bad day. I hope everyone will be as open-minded in reading our reviews and will remember we're just reviewing one episode. There are five very different personalities here so one person might love something that another of us is put off by.

Phew... another overlong post from me that I'll mercifully bring to an end. Stick around this weekend our first reviews will be going up!

Reviewing the Reviewers

One of the regular features of the blog will be a recurring post called "Reviewing the Reviewers" where we take a little time for reflection and self-criticism, clarification, or immature flame wars. We're going to rotate the authorship of this column so you're not always getting one person's view of how the blog and the contributors are doing. In the future we hope to invite some of the bloggers and podcasters that we've reviewed to review our reviews! :-)

Since we obviously don't have any reviews up yet I thought it would be fun for me to give you what I think the other reviewers are going to be like from getting to know them personally. Then we'll be able to come back and look at this down the road and see if I was right or wrong:

Jim: I think Jim is a really smart guy who tries a little too hard to let everyone know he's intelligent and therefore sometimes achieves the exact opposite effect. Maybe he's just socially awkward, although that criticism may be based on having met him in person I'm not sure if you'll be able to detect that in his writing. UWoW is Jim's brainchild so I think he feels some pressure to make it work and so he's probably the most likely of the five of us to say something outrageous for the sake of saying it. While I'm not sure he'd say something outrageous that he didn't fully believe he does seem to argue an out-of-favor point of view just for the sake of it. It can be tiring. I think his reviews and columns will be pretty fair and witty. He's really funny in person.

Pete Pete: Pete Pete is definitely the #1 conspiracy theorist in the group, and by a fair margin too. Pete Pete is going to author a column called "Master of Transcribing" where he's going to pull a section of someone's podcast ramblings and dissect it for the hidden meaning behind the "actual words," as he says. When I first met him I sort of picked up an Andy Kaufman-type vibe and thought he was always "in character" and never willing to let you in on the joke. As I've gotten to know him a little better I now think he's pretty serious. He's the only one of the group that kind of scares me (sorry Pete Pete). I think his reviews and columns are going to be unintentionally funny.

Fred: Fred is sort of the wild card. I think Fred has been a little self-conscious of being seen in public with us since since he's more than double our ages. He's kind of like a soft-spoken guy but comes out of nowhere with a line that just really stings every once in a while. Like after we were finished with what I thought was a pretty decent meal at a diner just outside of town we all went outside afterward feeling pretty satisfied and Fred says: "Well, that was some of the worst shit I've ever eaten!" Just cracked us all up since he had said about five words the whole night and since we were saying how good the food was! I think Fred just doesn't care who he offends at this point in his life and he may end up being the most abrasive of the five of us in his reviews. He does have a grandfatherly quality though too so I suspect he'll really have to be riled up to give a podcast a bad review.

Toothy: Toothy has very definite opinions about what he likes and what he doesn't and pretty much thinks you're a moron if you disagree with him. He's also brilliantly smart and has apparently read more books already at age 18 than I could imagine reading in my life. He says he's not a chav but he wears like ripped cargo pants and dirty hoodies all the time, with a gold necklace on the outside. There is a quality about him that is very suspicious, like he is a con-man or something. I could imagine him being a grifter on the series Hustle. I'm not even positive his accent is real that's how badly Toothy has scrambled my brains in one month of knowing him. I think he's going to be outrageous most of the time and then surprisingly compassionate when the situation calls for it.

Since I'm not going to write about myself I asked Jim to "preview" me and here's what he said:

I think Melissa is going to be the Paula Abdul of the group and like everything she hears. Since she's a fairly new player to WoW she doesn't even know if the information she's getting from The Instance or WoW Insider or wherever is correct. Maybe she'll be the one to focus more on the style of the podcasts we cover rather than the content.

Ouch! But I guess fair after my honest critique of Jim. I hope I'm not going to just blindly accept whatever I hear and call it good - I do know how to use a computer and can check facts as well as anybody - but I'm not going to go out of my way to criticize someone for the sake of criticizing them. I think this will be a fun way to give a little something back to the community that has already made me feel so at home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Meet the UWoW Team!

It all began a few weeks ago when the five of us literally bumped into each other in the Frist Center on the campus of Princeton University. Jim had a certain strategy guide that he dropped in the confusion and when Melissa picked it up and handed it to him she asked Jim if he played WoW and he said he did, and then almost in unison the other four us of said "me too!" We laughed that our meeting couldn't have been by chance and also about how we were such geeks living a real life episode of The Guild.

Here are some quick profiles on the Underground WoW team, I've slightly edited them to make them flow a bit together but haven't changed anything. For example, Pete Pete didn't actually call himself a "beach bum," I took the liberty! ;-) Anyway, here you go:

Name: Jim Surge
Real Name: James Millard Surge IV
Age: 33
Hometown: Princeton, NJ
WoW Experience: Been playing forever but have never become a full-time raider and have never really accomplished anything of note really because the only friends I have who are into WoW play the game horribly bad and all of the guilds I join dissolve in some sort of blow-out drama fest that I have no desire to be a part of. Have really slowed down playing recently and have a human Paladin parked at 70 for months waiting to do Northrend. Leveled a Horde hunter all the way up to 80 and still don't have a good mentor to help me break through to the next level.
Favorite WoW Podcast ATM: I first started listening to How I Wow during Episode 10 which was probably the weirdest How I Wow they've done (at least for the first 10 minutes of the interview) when Jim Moreno spoke in character as Wichdocta. I remember feeling awkward listening to it and yet not being able to pull myself away and I have been hooked ever since. They have had some really excellent guests, folks I would call giants in the WoW community, and it is always fascinating to see where the conversation is going to go. This is the only WoW-related podcast I've ever listened to where I've gone back to catch-up on older episodes.

Name: Fred Jones
Real Name: Frederick Jones
Age: 70
Hometown: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
WoW Experience: Vast, my retirement coincided with the launching of the game. This is the only MMO I've ever played though, aside from quick City of Heroes and Star Wars Galaxies demos.
Favorite WoW Podcast ATM: I really don't have a favorite. Being an older guy I'll say it is pretty interesting to hear some younger people podcasting rather than, say, the "cool nerds" who are in their late 30s and "rule" because they don't live in someone else's basement. So from our list that probably includes Warcraft Outsiders, The Grind, Outlandish, WoW Factor, and Yet Another World of Warcraft Podcast. I'm pretty sure Outlandish is the one that opens the show with a mash-up from the previous weeks episode and that is always pretty cool for someone like me that enjoys experimental music.

Name: Melissa Muromets
Real Name: same
Age: 26
Hometown: New York City, NY
WoW Experience: Pretty new player, still learning the ropes. I only play blood elf males with silly or male names so guys don't hit on me. Still weirded out by so many other "people" actually being there in-game with me.
Favorite WoW Podcast ATM: I'm still very new so I like more topical shows like WoW Insider or BluePlz! or Casually Hardcore or All Things Azeroth. Medros has been on a roll lately since his rant about Blizzard on Episode #99! And of course I love when Nemesis interrupts Casually Hardcore. I think some of the people here at UWoW like Pete Pete and Jim read a little too much into what they hear during a podcast and I think tend to forget that podcasts also need to be entertaining so I feel like I'm like the reality check.

Name: Toothy
Real Name: rather not say
Age: 18
Hometown: Bulwell, Nottinghamshire (I'm no chav!)
WoW Experience: I don't really like the game all that much because it has become easy and I've come to resent that. I basically just play to mess with other people at this point or to find and report bots. Sort of like a cosmic internets WoW bounty hunter. I'm also one of the youngest fully licensed dentists in the history of the United Kingdom although that has nothing to do with World of Warcraft.
Favorite WoW Podcast ATM: I am an alt freak so I listen to Ctrl Alt WoW religiously before anything else right now. The first time I listened to it I didn't last more than 10 minutes before I had to turn it off. Now it is like they hypnotize me and before I know it two hours have gone by. Aprillian, Ashayo, and Glanthur all have really unique voices and I think that plays a large factor for me. There also seems to be a level of diversity present in Ctrl Alt WoW that isn't present in hardly any of the others and I really value that.

Name: Pete Pete
Real Name: Peter Massimo
Age: 28
Hometown: San Diego, California
WoW Experience: I know hunters pretty well but not so much with any other class. Just rolling a piest now to see what the experience is like.
Favorite WoW Podcast ATM: I'm a WoW Things Considered guy at the moment. Duncor is podcast platinum, especially the insane ramble he goes on to begin Episode: Hot N Cold where he had to host solo. That is just some of the best stuff I've ever heard on a podcast of any kind right there. Been closely following them since then. Even though I'm the typical laid back California beach bum I seem to be more of a conspiracy theorist than my colleagues here at UWoW. For instance I think there is subconscious on-air flirting between Iolyte and Grail during Casually Hardcore. Or that Marc was totally hitting on Ali during the Craft of War and may have designed the entire podcast as a device to spend time with her.Yeah, I can read a bit into things.

TotalBiscuit's Twitter Freakout!

Loved a six tweet explosion this evening from TotalBiscuit about absurd fans who will defend anything.

It started innocently enough:

Why is it people seem to think being apologists for really bad podcasts is a good idea? Improving the medium should be a goal for all.

Then took a sharp turn:

Yes, most of those podcasts really suck, objectively speaking, everything about them is bad. Stop mollycoddling them and accept that.

Definite Twitter world first for me: first use of the word "mollycoddling" in a tweet. We think the timing of this rant is absolutely perfect for the sort of blog and show we intend to be, one that critiques and tries to help push everyone forward. As Robert Hunter would say, "Every time that wheel turn round/
Bound to cover just a little more ground." Anyway, back to TB:

Maybe then, people might actually do a bit of research, look and what they're doing wrong, and contribute to improving the medium.

It probably is but with my grasp of English I'm really not sure if that's even a sentence. But I am sure that I agree with the sentiment. Self-evaluation and tightening up your own ship will help improve the quality of podcasts overall because more folks will have to strive to compete to make their product at least as good if not better than what's already out there when competing for listeners. Makes perfect sense.

As opposed to taking a giant big dump on their RSS feeds every week and claiming it's ok because it's 'independent' and 'new media'.

I always think that the period should go inside the quotation at the end of a sentence but that's just me. But he's still correct. The attitude he describes is clearly a cop-out or "emailing it in" as the young people don't like to say.

GRAHHH, can you tell I'm a little riled over this particular subject? If you're not going to contribute to my medium, fucking leave it.

We love the passion. And he clarified in a tweet back at Shawn Coons that he was using the royal "my."

Just go away, do something else, something you're good at or at least willing to put some effort into. Quit dragging everyone else down.

Bravo! Couldn't agree more.

Anyway, what's all this actually about? Apparently the 1up guys released a new show without turning on their microphones. And their fans defended them by saying to lighten up, "it's only a podcast." In the interest of full disclosure I have never met or spoken with TotalBiscuit and knowing my contrary nature I will likely not agree with him on much but think he's pretty justified for his tweety outrage. All groups need voices not afraid to kick everyone in the pants every once in a while when things are going awry. And when complacency settles in that's exactly when things start to get stifling, as in stifling boredom. Surely that wasn't a sentence, but hope you catch my drift. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone that came out for the first "Dark Episode" of the UWoW Underground Lounge.

Despite a fantastic high school writing teacher who long ago warned me never to use the phrase "a good time was had by all" because invariably someone was sitting there miserable, we all had a great time and were especially pleased that our test audience was so blown away. Of course, what else would we expect from a hand-selected group of reviewers that includes nothing but family and friends?!

Jim reports that we've actually received a couple of legitimate emails and he'll be handling that side of things for the time being although I believe that Toothy is very interested in taking over reader/listener email and we've all but agreed to let him do it. The only fear is that Toothy probably won't be particularly serious when answering mail but we're hoping that will turn into a good thing. Otherwise we'll have no problem reverting back to Jim's more sober style.

That's about all for now. Fred has gathered our five mini-bios and is putting them into a more coherent format to post later today. There were also some great podcasts recently and we're excited to start writing about them! I know Melissa was lurking for last night's All Things Azeroth and reports good things despite some technical glitches where co-host Graece was dropped a few times but in all everything went pretty well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Underground Lounge: Dark Episode #1

If you happen to be following us from the beginning you have the opportunity to join our family and friends for three "Dark Episodes" that we plan to air live only, no recording, in the coming days. Basically these will be test runs for the UWoW Underground Lounge podcast to see the dynamic of the five of us in action, what segments we want on the show, how we want the show to be organized, etc..

Since we are UWoW it'd be a bit too easy to simply tell you how to join us so you'll have to figure out for yourselves. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hello from Idaho

It sort of figures that the 70-year old geezer would be the first of the underlings to join up the blog, doesn't it?!

Welcome to Underground World of Warcraft! I've been collecting the bio sheets from everyone and we'll get a "Meet the Team" post up soon once everyone else is signed on and approved as bloggers. The plan right now is for the five of us to register email addresses for ourselves in addition to the main address ( for the blog itself.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at:

Mailbag: Our First Email!

The good folks at Microsoft sent us this fantastic welcome note as congratulations for launching our blog and for choosing their free email service:

From: Windows Live Hotmail Member Services (
Sent: Wed 2/11/09 2:12 PM

Welcome! Here are 3 tips to help you get started with Windows Live Hotmail.

  1. Store all of your contacts in one easy place by importing contacts from other e-mail services into your Windows Live Hotmail® contact list.
  2. Select the layout of your Hotmail reading pane - right, bottom, or off.
  3. Personalize Hotmail with one of several design themes. Click on the "Options" menu in the upper right hand corner of any Hotmail page to see the theme choices.
Don't forget to add - the page where you can sign in to Hotmail - to your browser's list of favorites or bookmarks.
Did you know that you can use your Hotmail address and password to sign in to other great Windows Live services like Messenger (the world's most popular instant messaging service), and SkyDriveTM (which provides you free online storage space for your files)?
Thank you for using Windows Live Hotmail!
The Windows Live Hotmail Team
Still reading? :-) Here's some additional information on Windows Live Hotmail.
It's personal touches like this that reassure us we're doing the right thing with our blog. We suspect Mr. Gates is reading this right now so, Mr. Gates, we'd like to thank you personally for creating computers and various other things, and especially for thanking us for using Windows Live Hotmail. Bravo all around!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Introductions... (a spoiler)

The UWoW team are busy on their first assignments - filling out a really brief "bio" to introduce themselves to our readers, tell about their WoW Experience and their favorite WoW podcast at the moment.

I think you'll be surprised and pleased at the diversity present in our cozy five-person team. As a bit of a teaser we range in age from 18-70 (years) and range in experience from someone who hates World of Warcraft (and still plays) to someone who has never played to a couple of highly obsessed and addicted raiders. We all subscribe to the theory that a higher, more meaningful exchange of ideas comes from people of different backgrounds and life experiences rather than the stale, polite consensuses that are usually reached by people with similar life stories to tell.

In an effort to be completely honest and avoid unfairly influencing each others' opinions we have decided to attempt not speaking with each other in person unless completely necessary. That alone should lead to some fantastic creativity and, of course, we will speak with each other when we launch the podcast!

All for now, enjoy the matches!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Podcasts We Follow

Here is a listing of the podcasts we still listen to on a fairly regular basis:

  • All Things Azeroth
  • BigRedKitty
  • The Craft of War
  • Ctrl Alt WoW
  • Elunes Grace Podcast
  • Epic Dolls
  • The Grind Podcast
  • How I WoW
  • The Instance
  • Outlandish
  • Starting World of Warcraft Podcast
  • Warcraft Outsiders
  • Women of Warcraft
  • World of Warcast
  • World of Warcraft Video Podcast
  • WoW Factor
  • WoW Insider
  • WoW Radio: Blue Plz!
  • WoW Radio: Casually Hardcore
  • WoW Radio: Essence of RP
  • WoW Radio: Octale & Hordak
  • WoW Radio: PUG
  • WoW Radio: The Happy Hour Tavern
  • WoW Radio: Hiko & Railvas
  • WoW Radio: WoW Things Considered
  • Yet Another World of Warcraft Podcast
As we get started much of the focus will probably be on this group of podcasts, give or take one or two who may not be active at the moment. This by no means is an exclusive listing though, please feel free to contact us anytime at: and we'll start getting your podcast into the rotation.

Since we are an independent group and not beholden to anyone we'll try not to pull any punches in our analysis and critiques. For instance, Pete Pete thinks it's pretty obvious that Marc hits on Ali during The Craft of War and also thinks she at times sounds like she's a prisoner. He said yesterday during our brainstorming session (and without any means to back himself up) that Marc's flirting is the reason there hasn't been a new episode since December. Melissa, however, thinks Marc sounds charming and said Ali is "trying too hard to be cute."

Now of course a lot of the commentary is going to be subjective and superficial (how could a blog about podcasts about World of Warcraft not be at least somewhat superficial?) and that's just fine by us.

But we are willing to get down to the nitty gritty when we have to, even if it involves self-critique. Look at this horrible troll-ish email I sent to the How I WoW show:

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 9:01 PM, <jimsurge> wrote:
Hello -

I hate being the guy who never writes in unless he has something to complain about so I will preface my remarks by saying I am a long-time listener and very fond of your podcast. As you commented last week, your show is perfect for those of us powerleveling our mining after changing professions, or waiting for a full instance to empty, or locked out of our realm, especially today when there is extended maintenance and I can't bring myself to load up City of Heroes. The show is at times a bit too ass-kissy for my tastes but that's probably my own issues rather than anything you're doing.

The Mike the Beer Guy segment was horrible. I have had dinner parties and played just that part of the podcast for friends and colleagues and the consensus is that he is shockingly pretentious and out-of-touch, especially when it comes to his "precocious child" who's so intelligent she can't even tell the difference between real life and a cartoonish video game. Our 5-year old is in the middle of her second year of Chinese-immersion pre-school where all lessons and discussion are taught in Chinese. Not only this, she can speak and write rudimentary Spanish and French in addition to English. I'll also tell you that despite being the dumbest kid in her class last year - finishing 25th out of 25 - she knows the difference between games and real life. Guess why? Because my wife and I try this crazy thing called honesty with our child. It's the reason we're going to stop the Chinese lessons come May... she doesn't like it and prefers the Romance languages instead.

I know that perhaps standards are different for everyone but does he have to keep repeating how adept she is while in the next breath saying she doesn't have the capacity to draw the line between game and reality? And the solution is to hide from their child while playing? Come on now, I'm surprised Patrick didn't have a comment there. That sort of behavior only piques a child's interest more and can lead to deeper problems of mistrust down the road.

Please - no more self-serving segments like that. I don't know if this was an owed favor or what the motivation was for airing that but it was excruciatingly painful to listen to. A black mark on a previously unblemished record for How I WoW.

Jim Surge (or, if you want to pretentious it up, James M. Surge IV)
First of all, not only do I not have any children, I do not have dinner parties where the conversation would ever veer to World of Warcraft podcasts (discounting last night, of course). Amazingly, Patrick Beja actually took the time to send a polite reply:

On Feb 5, 2009, at 6:56 PM, How I WoW <> wrote:

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I'm sorry you didn't like it, but we did enjoye Mike's segment very much. I guess you need different people to make the place a wonderful diverse place. :)

Patrick Beja
I had to send a red-faced email the next day saying I didn't remember sending the email after a few glasses of wine, which was partially true. I did remember sending an email but certainly not as mean-spirited as the above. But it was in my sent mail folder so it must be true. We give Patrick a massive amount of credit for taking the high road (no telling the sort of emails he must get) and can only hope we'll be as measured when some moron decides to get his drink on and drunken email.

What's the point of this over-long post? Just letting you know we're not above mistakes or criticism (or self-criticism) ourselves.

Welcome to UWoW!

UWoW is the Underground World of Warcraft blog. We liken ourselves to an olde tyme speakeasy where if you show up and play by our rules we welcome you with open arms!

The main mission of UWoW is to be a fly in the ointment of the typical snobbery found around the World of Warcraft community. Yes, we're going to be a bit snobbish ourselves in that if you can't drop your pretenses here in the Underground Lounge and act like a normal person then you're not welcome. But we think that a small bit of hypocrisy in this area is a fair trade-off to avoid drama and will overall contribute to the greater good ("the greater good!").

We have flagged the UWoW blog for Adult Content and you should have had to acknowledge this when you first came here. While we certainly will not be "working blue" on a regular basis we are reserving the right to do so at our discretion. Essentially we don't want to have to put limits on the topics we write and speak about, be they something someone may find offensive or not.

Similarly we do not encourage the use of foul language in our posts and in your reader comments, especially using expletives as adjectives. We reserve the right to edit any and all posts we feel are using adult language gratuitously or hurtfully.

As of right now we have decided as a group not to use the approval filter for reader comments and would like to keep it that way and the only way that can happen is if you police yourself. Otherwise we will make changes to the blog and posting privileges. No inflammatory direct attacks, especially those containing malicious comments about gender, race, religion, age, or sexuality, will be tolerated. Gnome-bashing, though, while not officially endorsed is still allowed and even appropriate in certain circumstances.

We are in very early days here, just using a default format and the Blogger site to test the waters. We have several very kind offers for private hosting of the blog and for that we are truly grateful. We will be investigating all opportunities as we move forward but are content in our humble beginnings.

We're planning to launch the UWoW podcast in the coming months and preparations are already underway. Right now the idea is that we're going to run "seasons" of 10 episodes each to help avoid burnout. During the "season" the podcast will come out fairly quickly and then there will be an extended break during a dark period for us to make changes to the show, etc.. Then we'll come back refreshed for another 10 shows. At least, that's the initial plan. In this way we can help keep that vital balance between RL & WoW.

Thank you and welcome,
Jim Surge and the entire UWoW team (Fred Jones, Melissa Muromets, Toothy, and Pete Pete).