Saturday, 9 March 2013

Darker Days Radio - A Retrospective on the Last 2 Years

It has now been almost 2 years that I have been podcasting as a co-host on Darker Days Radio, and in that time a fair bit has happened. I first found Darker Days Radio around episode 4. That was back in July 2009. Listening to Darker Days Radio was something to listen to as I was starting my first job after PhD. I had of course moved city, and so I did not have a new gaming group gathered. It was also at this time I was writing my Venice setting for Changeling the Lost, and so why DD #11 was quite a favourite as I got to nerd on on the forums about it. Darker Days was really filling that void in my life at the time, as well as keeping me sharp ready for when I would start running a new chronicle.
In many respects Darker Days Radio is pretty much the same now as it was then. The main show, hosted by Mark and Vince, had new and classic World of Darkness segments. And in these segments is was exciting to hear how ideas from books could be ported between systems, and between versions of games. It was also great to hear people talk so enthusiastically about new World of Darkness. Furthermore the Secret Frequency was always a great listen, and really was close to the type of research I would do for my own games. Mark and Vince should be given a lot of praise, as in the almost 4 years the show has been going the format has remained, and not stagnated. Mark and Vince always came across as having a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the topics and books they were reading, and covered a broad range of the games.
The show of course has had a change of hosts, with Vince leaving the show, Mike joining, myself joining, and then Mark leaving, the show has retained the same energy. You see that's what is great about going back and listening to the old shows. They still seamlessly fit with the new shows. Many podcasts it's quite clear when they hit their stride and then from then on retain that style, or go through further iterations. But Darker Days from the start had the right formula. And for it to remain still the same slick operation with the same production values is also incredible. While a good many gaming podcasts are more irreverent, and some often come across as 'Dude bro roleplayers talking about stuff', I think Darker Days has always benefited from always remaining on topics, and also benefitted from having hosts who were on different continents. I think that is actually why Darker Days works. The hosts are not meatspace gamers, and not in the same room recording. Less of the 'dude bro' atmosphere. Darker Days has always come across as quite 'high brow', with the in depth knowledge of Vince and Mark for the games and for horror, myths, folklore and storytelling advice.
One of things that has added energy to the show, yet not messed with the formula were the Darklings. These were in some ways born out of the rapid fire game discussions sent in by listeners. They allowed for a form of conversation with the listeners, and provided more interesting topics of discussion for the forums. Ah the forums. Yeah, once I found the show I was pretty active there, suggesting Secret Frequencies and discussing the games. All of these things were what gave the show the energy, yet meant the main show format did not change.
I think Mike starting being a regular contributor from Darkling #9 onwards, as he is a big Vampire the Eternal Struggle player, and so it was his chance to rave about his favourite game. My own contributions first started back with DD #14 when I suggested the Demon Dogs Secret Frequency and the ghost story about my hometown.
Of course DD went through a pause as Vince left, and in that gap the Darkling episodes filled the void. Mike and Mallius made contributions in those shows, and it cemented Mike as a co-host with the show. It was at this time I thought why not go for the chance at being a co-host too. Part of what led to that was the rapid fire synopsis that listeners were asked to send in. These recordings covered each game. I saw a gap, and so covered Geist and Changeling. And of course this led to Darkling #17.
Darkling #17 was all about ghouls. And while they had a listener submission for cWoD ghouls, they need someone to talk about ghouls for Requiem. I was the big Requiem nerd, plus I had run a whole lot. It was all the show that basically let me show of my wide knowledge of nWoD. And what with Mark being off an on again episode #23 was my first show, and was also a chance to geek out. I got to interview David Hill Jr. which was a great first interview as David is a good sport, and really has written many of the more recent things I like in Requiem that have pushed it further from Masquerade. Plus I also covered the Secret Frequency, and also we talked about David's own game, Amaranthine - which was also my first freelance writing gig as I wrote the Venice city description for that game.
So 2 years on and of course we lost Mark as he took up his position as a content writer for a MMO, and Darker Days in some ways has grown. We mourned and suffered as we lost our forums, and Facebook never really worked as a replacement for interacting with the listeners. But Google Plus has really been the dream, and I'm quite glad at initiating that community and seeing it thrive - it being the most active WoD community on G+ while only being half the size of the largest WoD community. We've also seen the addition of the Rogue Council as we have put out more Darklings and now a fanzine. It really has grown into it's own beast and gained legs and arms, but still the core show is essentially the same. In that time I've had the privilege to interview some of the greats of White Wolf, as well as getting to review all the new releases. It is also excellent to see cWoD gaining brand new books, and being a living game setting once more, and of course see the birth of Onyx Path and how that is creating a new era for White Wolf
Darker Days Radio really has been a brilliant experience, and has offered some great opportunities and allowed me to make new friends. It still is a hobby for me, but one now fuels itself as I feel compelled to stay on top of the new releases and to find the best in all books, even if I am playing just nWoD.
If Darker Days could be summed up in one word, it would be immortal. It is as good as it was from the beginning. A testament to what Vince and Mark started, and Mike's professionalism to keep the show as fresh and well produced. Me - I'm just the guy with a brain that oozes everywhere when we do the Secret Frequency.

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