One Move Behind – Year One

Troy Goodfellow celebrated the anniversary of Three Moves Ahead with Episode 53 last night, and we spent an hour or so talking about the last year and our relationship to the podcast. My own anniversary with Three Moves Ahead will not arrive until Episode 94, but I have been listening since week one. And believe me, that first episode was not easy to listen to.

Long before I had even the inkling that I might be a panelist, Three Moves Ahead was one of my favorite gaming podcasts. It was different in style and content from the other podcasts I listened to, and I valued the contrast. After GFW Radio went silent, there was a dearth of intelligent, PC-oriented gaming discussion. Especially for someone who played as many strategy games as shooters and doesn’t give a damn about the Japanese game industry. Three Moves Ahead arrived in the nick of time.

More than the other podcasts I listened to, TMA was about ideas and understanding. At its best, the show is closer to a seminar than a gaming podcast. The panelists arrive with different areas of expertise and slightly different views on what strategy games should be, and each is legitimately interested in what the other has to say. I came away from most episodes feeling like I understood games a bit better than I had before.

Last night they talked about the Mark Walker interview / “debacle” (as Troy called it). But kidding aside, I’ve never understood why they felt that conversation took a wrong turn. It was an intense discussion about game design with a game designer, and they weren’t trashing his game so much as they were offering a strong critique and interrogating him about some of his core design decisions. It’s the kind of thing I wish I heard more of, not less. On a lesser podcast, with less informed and passionate people, an interview like that might have degenerated into rudeness. On Three Moves Ahead, it remained a spirited discussion from beginning to end. And by the time they signed off, I was intensely interested in Lock N Load, a title I had not cared about at all only an hour earlier.

If you asked me what I think separates Three Moves Ahead from its peers, aside from its strategy focus, I would have to say that it’s the panelists’ impatience for having their time wasted. Between their diverse interests and their often busy professional lives, they do not need games merely to stave off boredom and make the hours pass. They demand engaging and thought-provoking experiences.

As a listener and a fan, I think Troy and the other panelists have done a great job of holding Three Moves Ahead to that same standard. I am grateful that he gave me the chance to be a part of it, and to the listeners who helped him decide that I should remain a part of it. I look forward to Year Two.

    • Skyrider
    • February 24th, 2010 12:00pm

    You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned, “They demand engaging and thought-provoking experiences.”

    I started listening around episode 2 or 3. I knew the podcast would be solid as soon as I saw the names associated with it. Your co-panelists give the program immediate credibility by way of their extensive experience and knowledge of the hobby.

    I can appreciate your comment on the show about feeling a bit intimidated when you came on the TMA scene, but your commentary has been informed and intelligent. You’re a good fit for the show, and deserved to be more than a pinch hitter. Keep up the good work; hope Troy decides to continue with the show as a regular feature.

    • Yeah, Troy led off with a really impressive group. I was so happy when I heard Tom Chick demolish the use of “fun” in critical discussions about videogames.

      Thanks for the kind words. One thing I didn’t mention, but should have, was that I was also a bit intimidated by the podcast’s listeners. Troy usually gets quite a few insightful comments on the podcast, and listeners don’t hesitate to call bullshit when they see it. Plus, I know how I feel when someone that I absolutely cannot stand starts appearing on a podcast I enjoy. If you look at the “Gaming Podcast Discussion” thread on Quarter to Three, there’s a lot of hatred and contempt for second-raters. I had this dread that the posters would turn on me. Happily, quite the opposite happened.

  1. The listeners will turn on you – they have turned on each of us. Tom is too willing to talk about other games, Bruce is too out of touch, Julian is too tuned out of the ongoing discussion, and I have too loose a hand as a moderator. You too will have your detractors.

    But it’s been a good year and when we needed a third hand in a hurry, you were an obvious choice – and not just because you were there.

    Hopefully you can stick around through year two. It will be a big one.

    • Oh, I fully expect that. However, that kind of stuff is mild compared to some of the things that have been said in the podcast thread at Qt3. I was worried the listeners would do to me what they did to one of the hosts of Rebel FM, or to Alexander after her Giant Bomb appearance. You know, hatred rather than annoyance or criticism.

  2. I absolutely agree. GFW (RIP) and TMA are probably my favorite two podcasts, particularly when it comes to getting some honest to god discussion about game mechanics and how they work. And, indeed, too many podcasts feel the need to cover every game that comes out, including Japanese games, which are feeling more and more irrelevant to me. Why should I care about Final Fantasy XIII, really?

    Also wanted to say you’ve been an awesome addition to the crew!

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