Title: Death by Cliché
Author: Robert J Defendi
Genre: Alternate Reality/Fantasy/Role Playing
Released: 29 November 2008 – 25 February 2009
Located: Author’s Site, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast only (I think)
Rating: PG for Violence, language and content
I sit here looking at a mostly blank review form (or blog page if you prefer) late on a Sunday night, having just realized I haven’t written the review that should be dropping in just over 5 hours. While this isn’t the latest I’ve ever prepared a review, it is the first time to my recollection that I almost missed one due to an oversight.
Thankfully, while I haven’t written the review, I have finished the podcast the review was intended for. J.D. Sawyer recommended the story to me a week ago, and I decided to give it a shot. For some reason, when he said the author was a game developer, I envisioned a codemonkey for EA or similar type things. I don’t think that Mr. Defendi ever mentioned his day job, and to be honest, I didn’t delve into his blog that carefully, however, from the story, I find myself believing the game design Mr. Sawyer spoke of was of the role playing type. You know… D&D and such? At least I assume that is a good example (yes, I’m downplaying here… give me a break, ,^) ) as I’ve never played a honest to goodness role playing game. The closet I’ve come are their electronic cousins. Still, given the story, all the above doesn’t matter..
So, on to the review.
Synopsis: Seriously, two weeks in a row with no synopsis? This is not a good thing. Especially not if you’re reading this, because now you have to get my version of the story. I apologize in advance and really do wish I had a moose to sack.
Mr. Demeko (no idea the spelling) is a game designer that stops by a game/comic shop to check out a private game. The Dungeon Master is an amateur game designer and a fan. Such a fan, that after he follows Demeko into the alley, he shoots him in the head with a Glock 9mm because Demeko hasn’t answered his emails. Such begins Death by Cliché, and the clichés do indeed keep coming. Follow Demeko as he traverses the game world. Learn with him what fate has in store for him before he can leave. Watch him as he saves the world.. wait.. destroys.. no.. saves it.. oh just listen to Episode 1. (Synopsis was not stolen. I sure wish it had been because then I wouldn’t have to take credit for it.)
Production: While you’ll find much to love in DbC, the production is not one of them. It is terrible. Horrid. Ummm.. NOT GOOD. And no. I’m not kidding. The gating of the sound threshold is the worst I’ve ever been subjected to. The hiss that sits quietly behind the dialogue would be unnoticeable if it weren’t for the complete absence of all sound between speech breaks. This is REALLY too bad as the author does a very creditable read, but more of that in the cast section. The most interesting thing about the production, is while it’s consistently bad, the level of badness is not consistent. Some sections are obvious retakes and the sound does not mesh well at all.
That being said, the flow of the story, the pacing, is very good. The edits have been done to make the conversation flow naturally and if you’re not listening on headphones, you might not even notice. Especially if you’re in a separate room from your speakers.
Another cause for concern. I’m not sure this is a podcast. I’m sure that it isn’t in the form I obtained it. It isn’t on Podiobooks, it isn’t on iTunes. It isn’t available with embedded RSS in the audio files. It is presented on the authors blog. I had to download each ep individually and then run a script on it to have it load on my iPhone as a podcast. This was a lot of effort to expend before I even knew anything about the story. [Editor's update: Mr. Defendi was gracious enough to point out why I had not earlier been able to locate DbC on iTunes. When he pointed out that it was filed under "Robert J. Defendi's Playtesting.net" it was easy enough to find. I definitely recommend subscribing through the link provided above.]
This podcast was created in 2008 and early 2009, so I’ll give my last complaint no weight in the grade. You love Jonathan Coulton’s Skullcrusher Mountain. Admit it. Of course you do. I do too. However, you’re not allowed to use it in your podcast. No. You’re not. Don’t go there. Either that, or as an industry, we must all adopt it and all use it end our podcasts. No? I didn’t think so.
Cast: Robert J Defendi (the author) does this as a self read. Thank God. No one else could deliver the level of snark and sarcasm necessary for this story. He actually has a very good voice and is fun to listen to, obviously taken the previously mentioned Production into account. Several of his characters do sound very much alike, but it is hard for me to judge this too harshly. Overall, I’d gladly invite Mr. Defendi to voice a character in any story needing a sarcastic voice.
Story: Death by Cliché is a remarkable story in that while poking fun at everything we hold dear, it makes us laugh with it and tells a darned good story at the same time. If you’re a role player, I’m going to make the assumption it would be an even more fun listen.
Verdict: If you’re love of a good story out weighs all other categories, don’t hesitate to subscribe now. It is a really fun story that will having you laughing out loud and quietly cheering the hero on.
Shameless plug: Don’t forget, if you send an audio comment to me at Odin1eye at viewfromvalhalla dot com, I’ll include it in the podcast version of this episode next weekend (or when I receive it). You can also leave voicemail, for this or any other story, at the Valhalla Hotline simply by calling 956-307-ODIN (6346)
Disclosure: I’ve never met Mr. Defendi. I don’t know if he’s on twitter. I’ve never conversed with him and he’s sure never sent me a pony.