I've only just recently discovered this podcast, and sadly, I've nearly run out of episodes to catch up on. I've loved every minute of it so far- the coverage of particular games is interesting, the news segment is informative, and the discussion topics are often thought-provoking. One quality of the podcast that really stands out is the atmosphere: it feels very much like sitting in (or perhaps eavesdropping, but with an invitation to do so) on a group of close friends discussing everyone's favorite hobby. The episodes seem to go by so quickly that I'm starting to distrust my iPod's insistence that they're over an hour long.
On the subject of discussion topics, I've been wondering recently about those elements of video games, particularly RPG's (since this genre is where it should be most applicable), which contribute most strongly to a feeling of immersion into the game world and/or the psyche of the characters. Personally, I derive the most enjoyment from an RPG when it creates the illusion that I'm fighting as, or perhaps alongside (a la Fire Emblem 7's Tactician) the characters, but the exact qualities that a game uses to help create that illusion can be difficult to pin down, and of course are different from game to game, and player to player for that matter.
In the same vein, I've been giving some thought to what it means to "role-play" within the confines of a scripted world. Some games offer more customization and freedom than others in creating a character, which makes role-playing easier for those who are so inclined, but I recall fondly the days that I spent role-playing characters in Diablo II, which doesn't offer much customization at all compared to games like Dragon Age or Fallout. In the case of Diablo II, roleplay was often achieved at the cost of power (melee Amazons or Necromancers, bow- and spear-wielding Sorceresses), and I've often remarked on the fact that a game will often punish you for roleplaying too completely (to use a more recent example, focusing on non-combat skills in Fallout or Oblivion). Then again, is it punishing you for taking a role too far, or rather for disregarding an implicit role, namely that of the fighter/warrior/killer?
If the podcast team is so inclined, I'd love to hear the panel's thoughts on either of these topics in a future episode.
Thank you all for taking the time and energy to create such an enjoyable show. I'll be looking forward to future episodes with eager anticipation.