Hosts: Xander Phoena, Jeg Elsker
Topics: Retribution, CSM Winter Summit, CCP’s festive gifts, New Eden Open, and Fanfest 2013.
Length: 1 hr 44 mins
PreambleI didn't listen to Crossing Zebras for the longest time because I knew it was hosted by Scots. I don't dislike Scots, they're generally hilarious. It's the accent that kept me at bay. The Scottish accent can be so thick and quick, that it can be exceptionally hard to understand. I have a Canadian ear. I didn't want to listen to a podcast where I'd be muttering every 30 seconds "What did he just say?"
I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe they're aware of the difficulties some of us have with Scottish accents, because both hosts are quite intelligible. The brogue isn't thick. And the speech is spoke at a steady pace. It was no problem understanding the two lads.
The quality of the recording is quite good as well. Very little background noise evident, though there is a lack of that crystal clear quality. The audio levels are set appropriately, for both hosts. Very little that would make this standout as an amateur cast.
The GoodXander is definitely a great orator. He commands the podcast start to finish. I'm not quite sure what to make of Jeg's role, I'd say he's the Ed McMahon to Xander's Johnny Carson, thought that's not completely accurate. That comparison is not terrible. Jeg is certainly there to agree with Xander a lot of the time, but if Xander doesn't entirely make sense on a particular point, Jeg will pipe up to explain it in a slightly different manner. Unlike Ed McMahon, Jeg's not simply a Yes man to everything that comes out Xander's mouth.
All in all, they both work very well together. There's very little of either of them talking over the other. They know their roles well, and their timing together is impeccable. Xander and Jeg make a really strong team. Xander is, obviously, the captain of this ship, but if Jeg were to ever leave, I feel the quality of this podcast would be lost for quite awhile. The Skipper is nothing without his Gilligan.
They both kept to the topics at hand. The analysis was comprehensive. That's one of the things I want most in an EVE podcast. Some in-depth analysis of what's happening with the game, the CSM or CCP.
Even though the cast was nearly 105 minutes in length, they didn't stray. Each section was tight. There wasn't a moment that I felt was wasted airtime. That's not to say the podcast was banter free, but said banter was short, light and generally amusing. It didn't impede upon the topics and didn't send the hosts on lengthy and unrelated tangents.
The BadThe music. I'm simply not a fan of recorded music breaking up the pace of a recorded podcast. Unlike a live cast, the hosts don't need music to mask their toilet breaks and beer runs. They can press pause in those situations. Granted, I enjoyed the music for the most part (Foo Fighters!), but still fast-forwarded, I didn't listen to any song to completion. I get that Xander uses music to break up his segments, but a complete song isn't necessary. Something partial and fifteen seconds long would suffice.
I could have done without the "What are we up to in game?" segment. Though I recognize that most of their fans and peers probably do enjoy it. If this is a regular segment, all I ask is that it's kept as the last segment of the podcast, so that people uninterested can stop listening at that point, knowing they've heard all the segments they care about.
Overall ImpressionAn excellent podcast that hits on all the major elements of a podcast that I look for. The hosts do their job well. They have great analysis of their topics. A professional-quality amateur podcast. The length is perhaps a tad longer than I prefer, but with a few small fixes -- such as removing the music, and keeping the personal-story-time segment to the end of the cast -- time problem solved.
I would recommend this cast to anyone who is interested less in guests and the CSM, and more in analysis of the game they love to play.