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Gaming Podcasts: A Thread about Listening to Others

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Easy Allies are going to be back in the studio on June 10th! 

Awesome timing given E3 kicks off that weekend! I know they sometimes say that it feels like the views that their reactions get undermines some of their other work, but man, after the last 12+ months feeling so stilted, I can't wait for them to be back in the studio and reacting together. The last few months it felt like the energy was draining and now they can feed off each other once again :peace:

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Great news about the studio, looking forward to seeing them back in there - I don't agree with all of the detractors but it has definitely been a bummer them having to do everything remotely, perfect time for them to get back into the studio too, makes E3 that much more exciting!

Also, Isla Hinck!! I've had an inkling that she was transitioning, really pleased for her! As a transwoman myself I know how big a step it is to come out, can't imagine how stressful it must be to do it in the public eye. Fortunately the EZA community is very welcoming, I'm sure Isla will get plenty of support from them over the coming days

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9 hours ago, killthenet said:

Also, Isla Hinck!! I've had an inkling that she was transitioning, really pleased for her! As a transwoman myself I know how big a step it is to come out, can't imagine how stressful it must be to do it in the public eye. Fortunately the EZA community is very welcoming, I'm sure Isla will get plenty of support from them over the coming days

Yeah it's awesome! She's been on the receiving end of a lot of undeserved stick for the longest time, and while it sucks that I imagine her coming out got delayed because of that, I'm glad she felt comfortable enough to come out and share this now - I can't imagine hiding something like this for so long (also found it way too funny and pure that she continued hiding her name from Huber in fear he'd blurt it out).

If anyone hasn't seen it yet, I think it's well worth watching this week's Easy Update, it's really well done:

From an Easy Allies community perspective, I think a very, very strange silver lining to last year's post in recognition of what was going on following George Floyd's murder - and being in support of BLM - is that a whoooooole lot of idiots came out against it, and the guys pretty much told them they don't want their support. A community will never be without flaws, but I think it weeded some people out who otherwise might have otherwise kicked off over Isla's news. 

The last couple of months I thought I was going crazy thinking her voice was changing and I noticed her skin was looking smoother too, but never put two and two together! There was a question in last week's Fast & Loose where someone asked them all to stand up - just so we could laugh I guess at them wearing shorts - but Isla was pretty fast to shut that down, and I think Kyle said he wouldn't either, and I didn't flag it at all then either. 

I also want to highlight Damiani here, the guy's been respecting Isla's pronouns for years, calling her "they/them" even when she's not around, which really didn't look easy at times; you could see him catching himself and making sure he got it right. The guy gets a lot of undeserved flak, but it's obvious he's a genuinely good guy who's conscious of his thoughts and actions, and I know he's really good with this on Friend Code too (where I also feel he's constantly getting better as a host), so yeah, good on him! 

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Are there any podcasts which focus on gaming history, retrospectives etc similar to what you can find on YouTube?

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2 minutes ago, Ashley said:

Are there any podcasts which focus on gaming history, retrospectives etc similar to what you can find on YouTube?

Do you mean like a podcast that focuses solely on a single game? If so, Retronauts is one of the best for this.

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28 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Do you mean like a podcast that focuses solely on a single game? If so, Retronauts is one of the best for this.

Yeah I guess kind of, or gaming history in general. Cheers for the suggestion. When I'm less lazy tomorrow I'll post some YouTube videos of the kind of thing I'm thinking of but off the top of my head Gaming Historians. 

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So the British Podcast Awards have a Listeners Choice Award, and although we have precisely zero chance of winning, we could potentially get good exposure.

If people could go to the link below and vote for Dice and Desire, I would be eternally grateful.

https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote

(Also, feel free to listen/subscribe to us too, if you want to!)

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Not listened yet but this caught my eye earlier

 

 

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9 hours ago, Jonnas said:

E3 starts now!

 

Watched this earlier when eating my dinner and the chaos that ensued during the announcement of each Auction Bet had me in stitches :D

So hyped for this E3 as it is, and we get the Allies back in the studio too. Going to be a great next 6 days or so, cannot wait! :bouncy:

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54 minutes ago, Julius said:

Watched this earlier when eating my dinner and the chaos that ensued during the announcement of each Auction Bet had me in stitches :D

"It's too unclear what constitutes a face!" :laughing:

Don's constant attempts to rewrite questions were also hilarious

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Goes without saying, but I'm glad to see Ben so plainly shutting it down. 

It never ceases to amaze me how far some will go in order to hurt others. But, on the other hand, it's very reassuring to know that the Allies have Isla's back and are willing to speak up so publicly about it. 

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Easy Allies' E3 Noodles & Broth special is back! Was watching their Capcom coverage, it cut away to their interstitial for a few minutes, before Isla hilariously blasted us with Frame Trap's music :laughing:

Definitely the pick-me-up I think a lot of us need after this year's E3. Really hope they talk about how this E3 turned out in the Hottake, always a pleasure hearing their thoughts on things going on in the industry! 

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So Jones teased last week that they had plans to bring him in, but Kyle is back on the Easy Allies Podcast for the first time since leaving this week. I'm only 10 minutes in, but man, it's just underlined how much I miss having him around the other Allies, because I'm in stitches. 

A tease of the TGA's aftermath with him, which I'll have to check out this weekend:

I don't think Jones does a particularly bad job as host of the Podcast, but I've been listening back to older podcast episodes the last couple of weeks, and I really think his rapport with Kyle as a co-moderator just suited him better. Kyle is the perfect weekly gaming podcast host for me because even if he wasn't making the podcast every week he would still be scouring through these news stories anyways, whereas I don't think Jones would be, if that makes sense. 

Obviously I hope Kyle is doing well, I still check out Delayed Input and support him there, but yeah, I do miss having him around a lot. I checked where the Easy Allies Patreon was at the other day, and while I know some of this might be offset by their deals with Rooster Teeth, seeing them at less than half of what they were at on Patreon when they got to the studio is really concerning (they were at ~$22k per month when I checked if I'm remembering right, when the studio goal was $50k per month over an extended period).

It's rough, but yeah, back to enjoying seeing Kyle with the Allies again :peace:

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My favourite (and in my opinion, the best) GOTY discussion has arrived: the 2021 Easy Allies Awards Deliberations!

Guess I know what I'm listening to over the next few days at work :D

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It should also be noted, the EZA podcast this week (about the Activision Acquisition) was pretty interesting, imo. You can tell Jones really thrives with any topic regarding the business side of gaming. I've also been getting the feeling that he's really loosened up as a host lately.

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On 25/01/2022 at 8:00 PM, Jonnas said:

It should also be noted, the EZA podcast this week (about the Activision Acquisition) was pretty interesting, imo. You can tell Jones really thrives with any topic regarding the business side of gaming. I've also been getting the feeling that he's really loosened up as a host lately.

Yeah, it was a solid podcast episode, and I too feel like Jones is definitely loosening up.

I do still think he's better as a co-moderator rather than the host just because he does like to be part of the conversation so much that sometimes it's like he's a panelist (for example, he'll introduce a topic, say he's about to throw it to someone, give his opinion and then throw it to them), and I know he's mentioned before that he prefers being on that other side. 

Somewhat similarly, I'm getting to the end of GOTY Deliberations, still the best in the book in my opinion, but some of the issues from earlier Deliberations have persisted.

Firstly, and I don't think it's really a massive problem, but it hurts my appreciation of the debate a bit at times when the Deliberations basically become a social strategy game rather than talking about the quality of the games themselves, such as...

Spoiler

...when Isla got what she confessed as being her only horse that she was really backing - Echoes of the Eye - to win an award, and then basically said "well, I've got what I want out of this" and then peaced out for a good few awards, basically becoming overly trusting of and friendly to everyone else's opinion, because she was happy that Echoes of the Eye won. 

The other thing for me with these GOTY Deliberations is that I think it's one of the few places where Ben's passion can come off worse for wear, which is a shame because he's one of my favourites out of the group and I love Frame Trap, trust his opinions on games, and admire his passion and articulation for the subject.

He's nowhere near as hostile this time around as I feel he got last year, when at times he was almost venomous; I think in part that's down to not having to sit on a Zoom call and instead sitting with the other Allies and discussing things face-to-face; I remember a specific instance where he basically made Huber backpedal hard on something in a pretty unfriendly way. I get that he probably plays the most games out of all of the Allies, but he definitely has a "this MUST win" mentality at times, and is pushing very hard for a good three or four games to be included when most of the categories only have five nominees, so you end up with other Allies backing off. While they clearly care about the discussion being had and want to have a say, I think they're not as on edge in these discussions as Ben sometimes is. An example of that this year is...

Spoiler

...when Blood was questioning if they should consider NieR Replicant for best soundtrack as so much of it is based on material from the original game. Sure, there are new tracks and rearrangements, but I feel Ben kind of walked all over him to thrust Replicant's soundtrack into the spotlight, when Blood was pretty clearly still on the fence about them including it. 

And I mean, not to overgeneralise, but I do feel like Ben has been kind of going down this path of his passion almost blinding some of the others ever since he started donning caps all the time. I don't want to say it's disrespectful, because I know Damiani where's a hat a lot of the time too, but there's been a pretty noticeable change of attitude from Ben over the last six months where I'm finding myself questioning if he's alright, or if something is going on.

Going back to Ben being a louder voice through his fiery passion for games, Frame Trap in particular is where I'm noticing it more and more, and again there's just a different flow to the conversations where it's very stop-start now in a way I don't think it was before. Ben will start introducing the next game a panelist wants to talk about, but then almost overbearingly starts to give his own opinion before they've got much more than a sentence or two in edgewise. 

Last thing I'll mention at this point as a criticism the Deliberations: the guys know Huber, we know Huber, so they know you've got to rein him in. Don't ask Huber to introduce a long list of nominees for a category and then get annoyed when he gets sidetracked and starts the conversation about a nominee well before finishing reading the shortlist -- it was always going to happen, so just do the smart thing and have someone else read the list!

A positive thought though: Brad as always manages to be the voice of reason through these Deliberations. I think he's the most level-headed during these, but he injects some humour into it (especially during some of the more heated moments) which is definitely needed as the guys rightly grow a bit tired as it goes on, he's the most concise with his opinions, and he's not afraid to cut things before the nominee discussions if he knows they don't stand a chance in the conversation for actually winning (such as with Lost Judgment). 

Probably sounds like I'm railing on the guys, but yeah, the energy has definitely changed over the last two years for me (understandably - Kyle leaving, working from home for so long, etc.). Still my go-to place for gaming opinions out of all of the podcasts and reviews! 

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I have finished listening to the GOTY discussion on Friday, and I'm glad they voice out their thoughts so thoroughly, because I have very few complaints or misunderstandings. That said, those are:

  • Sad that If on a Winter's Night, Four Travelers... got snubbed (by not being talked about). Dangit Isla, that game can be played on one night! I certainly played it in two!
  • The Allies remembered Tormented Souls at the last second, but Bravely Default II got no such luck. Bummer.
  • They really need to better establish what "Better World Design" means, because even they were alternating between whether that meant "Game Design", "Lore Worldbuilding", or "Visually impressive".
  • Their discussions for "Best Character" and "Best Narrative" felt incredibly short and undercooked:
Spoiler

Best Narrative was super short, and it's crazy how little time they spent talking about Life is Strange. That was the point Huber should've gone to bat for it, but for whatever reason, he didn't. I guess that short length is a result of nobody's strong opinions clashing with one another.

Best Character is on a similar boat, with the added issue that not enough variety was considered. For example, I thought Samus in Dread would've been an interesting case to discuss (her characterization is nearly wordless in that game), but they ignored her completely.

So yeah.

On 27/01/2022 at 12:44 PM, Julius said:

it's one of the few places where Ben's passion can come off worse for wear,

The few times Ben annoyed me were in the Nier soundtrack discussion, as you said, and also when he stubbornly refused to cut Guilty Gear near the end (read the room, dude). With everything else, I think he pushed his favourites the way he's supposed to, it's just that he has plenty of those.

By comparison, Huber disappointed me, as I don't think he pushed Life is Strange enough, and discussions where that game was involved ended up feeling empty as a result. Some of that energy he showed for RE Village and Mr.X, would've been nice to see for the Narrative and Character talk as well.

On 27/01/2022 at 12:44 PM, Julius said:

A positive thought though: Brad as always manages to be the voice of reason through these Deliberations.

And incidentally, Brad is the one that grated me most! It's a common thing from him, but he rarely elaborates well on his opinions. They end up being overly curt or vague, often relying more on emotion than arguments, and it's frustrating. I felt like any discussion regarding FFXIV needed Damiani to step in and explain why it's good, because Brad had a hard time doing it.

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@Jonnas. Interesting that you mention Samus and her Dread characterisation. Because I'm not super keen on it.

Spoiler

Now don't get me wrong, I like the little cutscenes where she calmly deals with whatever threat she's up against. That's cool.

But the whole series has been kind of implying that the Chozo had died out for a very long time since Prime and here she actually finds one and she reacts with sheer indifference. Granted, most of them are trying to kill her, but still. You think she'd be more engaged compared to her other bounties.

The moment she reassures Quiet Robe in Chozodian speak is a cool touch and starts to actually promise some exploration of her relationship with the Chozo, only for Quiet Robe to immediately get shot in the back, ending that avenue.

Honestly, that Chozo assassin is kind of a perfect metaphor to the fervent backlash the series has received from the vocal outcry with Other M. The moment some actual plot going into Samus's past starts to materialise, it gets killed off immediately.

I think Samus Returns and Dread is evidence of a furious backpedaling that aims to be as far removed from Other M's plot format as possible. Don't get me wrong, Other M has a wide variety of issues with its plot. But I like the idea behind it. Showing that Samus is more then just badass. It blundered the concept, sure, but now the series is really skittish about having anything to the plot more then Samus being awesome.

Dread irks me, it follows up some great foreshadowing with the secret image of Samus Returns showing Raven Beak, with nothing but another average Wednesday for Samus. It works for when she's dealing with anonymous alien threats, but when it comes to the race that raised her through childhood? I don't know, it seems a bit flat.

 

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11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

They really need to better establish what "Better World Design" means, because even they were alternating between whether that meant "Game Design", "Lore Worldbuilding", or "Visually impressive".

This wholeheartedly. Like you say, I think part of it unfortunately boils down to not all of the Allies aligning on what world design even is in the first place, and folding so many elements into it that it becomes a melting pot of what could potentially be separate categories. Best level or game design could absolutely be it's own category, but I don't think all of the Allies are capable of that level of analysis, and trying to dive deep into the how behind why they're enjoying what they are, and similarly, best visuals could also be it's own category. Lore, for me at least, should just be considered when it comes to best narrative, unless it actually has to do with the construction of and impacting the world being experienced (e.g. something like the blood moon in Breath of the Wild). 

For me, world design is about the atmosphere and logic of the world, and how interesting that makes the world to experience. In the context of a GOTY discussion, for me, the questions being asked should mainly be around anything that might be incongruous: does the tone of the game match the visual setting of the world (a good example of this would be Souls games being quite darkly coloured matching the darker nature of those games, rather than being all sunshine and rainbows); is it visually interesting and unique (vs. is it visually impressive?); and does the design of the world itself make sense given what the game is trying to achieve (for example, if a game is clearly going for a realistic look and world, it wouldn't at all make sense for a tree to be sprouting in the heart of a volcano, whereas in a less realistically presented world that's a bit more loose with that - I'm kind of imagining a JRPG here - it might not feel out of place). 

11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

The few times Ben annoyed me were in the Nier soundtrack discussion, as you said, and also when he stubbornly refused to cut Guilty Gear near the end (read the room, dude). With everything else, I think he pushed his favourites the way he's supposed to, it's just that he has plenty of those.

Yep, the only part I had left when I posted was the GOTY discussion itself, and I 100% agree. It felt like he was going the way of offering to cut Guilty Gear a good two or three times but then the attention would somehow be swung far away from it and towards another game. Look, I didn't play Guilty Gear or Metroid Dread last year, so I'm saying this more as someone who has heard the conversations around those games, but when you are the only one who has seriously put time into Guilty Gear, is the only one fighting for it, and the game being raised to cut for it to stay on the shortlist is Dread - which was high up on almost everyone's lists - you need to just concede. That's the exact reason for them having a Personal Picks video!!!

And yeah, I do agree with you pushing for his favourites as he should, I guess for me it was just watching him struggle within himself to figure out which of his favourites were his favourite that got a bit annoying for me. It happened multiple times where Ben would say one thing about a favourite game of his, the Allies would agree, but then he'd go "but its difficulty, because with this other favourite of mine..." and basically drew a lot of the attention of the conversation to his own favourites, rather than to the wider group's thoughts and favourites. 

11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

And incidentally, Brad is the one that grated me most! It's a common thing from him, but he rarely elaborates well on his opinions. They end up being overly curt or vague, often relying more on emotion than arguments, and it's frustrating. I felt like any discussion regarding FFXIV needed Damiani to step in and explain why it's good, because Brad had a hard time doing it.

Yeah, I see where you're coming from and agree he could have voiced some of his opinions better, but to be fair with XIV in particular, I think all of the Allies defer to Damiani. I meant more in the sense that he was the only one willing to make the hard cuts for some of his picks for the sake of not meaninglessly dragging out the discussion, such as how he knew Lost Judgment wasn't a serious contender (I think he's the only one who played it, and that was for review), and just made the cut himself.

Jones and Blood seemed like they were there trying to see and listen to all sides but didn't have a lot of stake in many of the categories; Ben was fighting for pretty much everything; on the opposite end, Huber was fighting for particular games (I totally agree with you that he could and should have pushed for something like Life is Strange much harder!); Isla pretty much checked out and became very agreeable after Echoes of the Eye won (other than mentioning that these were their awards and saying they could just increase the number of nominees again - am I the only one who always finds this a bit undermining to the discussion? I get where she's coming from but having a set number of nominees is clearly something they all agree upon as a group behind the scenes); Damiani was staying back for the most part analysing what on the whole he felt the group was saying but not realising (to be fair I know his cat passed away, so I'm honestly just happy he was around friends and turned up for GOTY's during a tough personal time); and Brad, for me, was the one making hard cuts and trying to move the conversation along, making sure people didn't cut people off in the middle of points. The fact they spent nearly an hour on Best Boss Fight at the start to me is insane. 

I think overall, the most frustrating part of the GOTY discussion itself was that...

Spoiler

...the winner was Returnal *, but with the MASSIVE asterisk that only two of the Allies played Endwalker. I have no stake in XIV winning, and I know they're all very busy, not all of them have the time to play an MMO, etc., but I'm sorry, I do kind of blame how that end conversation for GOTY went on Ben. 

Thing is, if you've been listening to the other content they've been putting out, we've heard nonstop throughout the second half of 2021 about how Ben is binging the hell out of XIV to catch up and be ready for Endwalker. As far as I'm aware he caught up, and then...he just hasn't played it yet. Which is fine, it's very long, BUT, when you say you're going to listen to the other two on their judgement and you are praising Shadowbringers, saying it might be one of the best games he's ever experienced, and then both Brad and Damiani agree that this is far better, and actually have to walk out at multiple points to not have things spoiled for you, I think it should have been a greater priority for him to play Endwalker than maybe any other game. 

Because, then, from my perspective the entire vote changes. Ben is easily the most passionate in the group and there were multiple Allies open to being swayed (Brandon is only early on in Returnal, Blood is about two thirds of the way through, and Isla DIDN'T EVEN FINISH THE FIRST BIOME), so if Endwalker is anywhere as good as Brad and Damiani say it is, I struggle to see how he wouldn't have fought passionately for it to win. 

Again, I know they're busy, but considering that they push their GOTY talks back to Jan as it is, I think they should have considered extending it a little further. I can absolutely see Ben playing Endwalker, popping on Frame Trap, and going "having played this, my 2021 GOTY was Endwalker." 

Just a surprisingly frustrating GOTY discussion to be honest ::shrug: can't imagine next year's being much easier either, because if the big games currently pencilled in for 2022 all arrive (BotW2, Ragnarök, Starfield, possibly XVI) and the ones just around the corner live up to the hype (Elden Ring, Forbidden West) AND we see some big surprises this year (probably from Nintendo) then I can see them all having a legitimate but different horse in the GOTY race. So I'd expect that to be a very long one! 

Edited by Julius
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18 hours ago, Glen-i said:

Interesting that you mention Samus and her Dread characterisation. Because I'm not super keen on it.

Fair points. I'm not saying she should've been a nominee or anything, I just think she should've been part of the discussion at EZA, at least (especially when you consider who their eventual winner turned out to be, as I'm sure there are points of comparison).

8 hours ago, Julius said:

Just a surprisingly frustrating GOTY discussion to be honest ::shrug: 

I agree on several points here, as well. Unlike previous years, it felt like most of the Allies weren't on the same page regarding their gaming experiences this year, and it showed (like you mentioned, weird that Ben didn't play Endwalker. In fact, there were several times I felt like that).

But it might be the nature of any contentious year to be like this, with everybody pulling for their side. In the end, the game with the most shared positive experiences won, which, while sensible, can also feel underwhelming (I think Isla has complained before about Last Guardian being a similar pick that nobody was too passionate about, but ended up winning anyway).

Spoiler

I'm not going to knock on anybody for not beating Returnal, though. I haven't played the game, but if it's a roguelike, it's fair that each person played as far as they were comfortable doing so.

 

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Stop Skeleton's retrospective on the Zeebo - think it's my favourite video of theirs yet, very insightful and entertaining!

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Posted (edited)

End of an era: Brandon Jones of Easy Allies is retiring from games journalism at the start of May. 

Says it in the clip but he's actually been thinking about retiring since last July, so this isn't a sudden reaction to his son's recent health scare which has seen him away from the Allies in recent weeks. This was announced at the start of Easy Allies' sixth anniversary stream. 

I've mentioned before elsewhere that I didn't really get massively into games until I left high school and got my first job, due to the lack of disposable income in my house growing up, and so I didn't get into Easy Allies until a year or so in. But the crazy part is, before that, when I would watch videos on YouTube about games, and for reviews of games that I couldn't get my own hands on, I know for a fact that I came across Brandon's voice a few times. Kind of crazy how things work out.  

Love or hate the direction of Easy Allies as of late, the guy has firmly put his stamp on the face of gaming journalism at Easy Allies, and before that at GameTrailers. He's probably up there as one of the best and most recognisable voices in gaming journalism, right? Sounds like he'll be reading reviews when asked to by the Allies for now too. 

Been a hell of a ride. Kudos, Jones! 

heres-to-you-wink-and-point.gif

 

EDIT: well okay then, a whole host of changes and a new logo: 

Addresses a fair bit of the growing criticism I've spotted since COVID kicked off, well worth a watch. 

Edited by Julius
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Posted (edited)

Dang, is this why he seemed so loose lately? Might as well have fun during your last year, right?

I mean, as far as career ends go, going out on your own terms to be a full-time family man is probably the happiest, most wholesome one. I'm happy for him... but I'll miss him a lot. Loved hearing his take on things.

I was going to say they now need to hire more allies for sure... but it seems they're hiring at least one Community Manager, at least.

Edited by Jonnas

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