Elder Game has a nice post up about punditry.
And he's right - he usually is. The human mind is extraordinarily creative when it comes to making sense of things that don't make sense. You can see it every evening in the news (assuming you are that antiquated). The stock-person explains to you that shares fell today, because of rumors about Greece. Of course, if the stock market had risen, the explanation had been that there were rumors about a new Intel chip. That's the hindsight bias.
So, yes, Eric: Trying to make sense of things is messy. Just like democracy is. Mmh, off topic. But not asking the "why?"-question isn't really a solution either, is it?
When writing about MMORPGs, and especially when trying to analyze what worked and what didn't, it doesn't make a lot of sense to doubt yourself all the time. It will make you appear less convincing, if you point out that you're not convinced of your own opinion. Having a good discussion is impossible if you're not convincing. And having good discussions is necessary if you want to get that tiny step closer to the truth.
Of course, you should always remember the limits of your knowledge.
About myself ...
In the past, it turns out, that my taste was an extraordinarily good indicator of how an MMORPG will do. I started WoW and was instantly amazed. I stayed subscribed for two years and played regularly before I even took the first break! That was shortly before TBC had ended. I returned half a year later and didn't like it much, but I stayed subscribed for about 50% of the WotLK expansion. I came back with Cataclysm, leveled one toon 80-85, one from 1-31 and another purely by dungeon finder 1-61. Quit.
I was full of expectations when AoC came out. I leveled within 10 levels of max level and quit, because there was not enough content. All within the first month.
I was a bit more careful with Warhammer, loved the leveling, played a week at the endgame. Quit. All within the first month.
I was very careful about Rift, loved leveling three chars, resubbed several times. Quit.
If that isn't representative of the success of these games, I don't know what is!!
Unfortunately, I may be a victim to memory distortions!
I decided that I am not. By analyzing myself, I decided, I can analyze these games. There's a chance that's wrong. I accept this chance. Having a 100% mainstream taste is a bit embarrassing at times, but for criticizing MMORPGs it's pretty good. And at the same time I imagine that I would be able to design a revolutionary MMORPG without any teleports whatsoever. And make it mainstream! Yeah, there's a good chance that I'm wrong. I see you smiling. But there's really just one way to find out.
Added Elder Game to the Interesting Pages.