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Geldonyetich Doomcasts YouTube

I'm not exactly batting 1000 when it comes to predictions in the technology world. It's not that the future of tech is an easy one to guess at. If you didn't believe that, you wouldn't have believed that guy that told you Bill Gates claimed 640k was enough for anyone. Yeah, I fell for that one too.

The last time I made a major technology prediction, it was a claim that World of Warcraft would likely not retain most of its subscribers because it was a shallow game. That did not turn out to be a very good prediction. I'd actually written up a retraction for my World of Warcraft doomcast for GamerGod, but they're gone forever now. If you really want to see me apologize for that, I happened to have had a copy of the original work document that I'll post for you here:

Geldonyetich UnDoomCasts World of Warcraft (Again):
Some of you may have read this article, boldly forecasting "doom" for World of Warcraft. The premise was simple: There's massively multiplayer online games built for longevity and MMOGs that aren't built for longevity, and I figured World of Warcraft fell into the later category. It was easy to see why: A short leveling treadmill of no longer than 200 hours from 1 to 60, a rapid rate of content consumption that would most assuredly leave people wanting when they hit the end game, a reliance on gimmicks in the graphical user interface to keep the game interesting instead of eternally questing for rare drops, and a general lack of social reliance between players. Thus, back in April, it seemed to me that this super hot game that was practically falling off the shelves was doomed to suffer a drastic loss of subscribers soon after release. I predicted not just the typical loss of subscribers that happen after any release, not total extinction either, but easily a sharp drop in subscriptions that would bring it below that of more "longevity-based" MMORPGs such as Everquest or Final Fantasy XI.

Well, six months have passed, and a simple look at the official server status screen during prime time shows that World of Warcraft's servers are still packing them in. I'm not afraid to wipe the egg off my face and eat a heaping portion of crow, even with a generous slice of humble pie. I was wrong, alright? Apparently World of Warcraft did have something resembling longevity after all. Maybe not for all of us, but certainly for a good deal of the original World of Warcraft players.

As a self-appointed guru of gaming, or at least somebody who has been around a pixel block a few times, I'm left wondering where exactly did I go wrong with my prediction. The answers may well be revealing about where the online gaming industry aught to be going. So far as I can figure, the score goes something like this:

My first mistake was not actually reaching the top level and seeing how things were for myself. I gave up at level 42, frustrated perhaps by weeks of juggling Warlock soul stone replenishment. However, had I stuck around a little longer, I'd have hit level 50, which was the top level at the time. I had naturally assumed that there was nothing to do at the top level in World of Warcraft because prior to that level everything seemed to pretty much be quest completion, and once you run out of quests you run out of things to do. What I didn't realize at the time was that World of Warcraft didn't vary all that much from most MMORPGs when it came to top levels. The typical end-game raids that yielded rare drops I had thought missing were actually there in full force. I discovered this soon after writing my article, but instead of figuring that this would help World of Warcraft retain subscriptions, I simply pointed out that many people had grown terminally bored of those activities so it would drive them all away. Bzzt! Wrong. Strike one: World of Warcraft's end game was no worse than any other MMORPG.

My second mistake, and one I'd like a lot of you game developers out there to pay notice to, was my assumption that the cleverness of Blizzard's game mechanic wasn't going to last. I liked how radically different the different classes in World of Warcraft played from each other, even incorporating exclusive GUI elements to the individual classes. I saw that this was a big draw to the game's popularity, going so far as to suggest it may even be the only thing the game had going for it. However, I had thought that this would be a temporary advantage at best, as players are bound to fully learn the knack of how to play their particular class and quit. In other words, if the game is all about trying to figure out how to play it, once you've fully grokked how to juggle which moves to use when and how, what is there left for you in the game? I had failed to notice two things. First, that there was more to the game than just the GUI (see the above entry). Second, the GUI had a lot more longevity to it than I thought. Because it deferred from class to class, the players could simply start over another class and enjoy that aspect of the GUI anew. The short leveling treadmill, the ease of self-twinking through the mail system, and the variety of starting locations all played into making starting over a viable option. Strike two: World of Warcraft wasn't lacking in longevity here either.

My third and perhaps worst mistake was assuming that World of Warcraft was utterly lacking in social appeal. After all, my experience in the game was that players only grouped together if they were in a guild or trying to tackle missions that they couldn't do on their own. The ease to go solo in the game, I thought, had gone a long way to totally erode any social bonds players might build between each other. Again, I lacked the upper level perspective, where raid activities involving coordination of dozens of players were the norm. Perhaps these players were ill prepared for those activities from the lower level experience, but in time they adapted and the community cooperation social bond become considerably stronger than I anticipated. With a slick guild interface and mailing system to coordinate inter-guild item exchanges, Blizzard had these bases well covered here. Strike three: Socially, World of Warcraft was fine.

So here I am, with Blizzard on the mound it was inevitable I be sent back to the dugout to be served a modest fare of crow. If I ever "doomcast" a Blizzard product again, I'd better be willing to take a brief vacation before submitting it so I can double check my assumptions with an unbiased perspective.

So yeah, telling me my prediction didn't pan out is old news, but I'm not losing much sleep over it knowing how hard these things are to predict. At least I was right about Vanguard getting over 100k subscribers.


Next Doomcast: YouTube. I've prepped a suitable video for those of you who don't like my Doomcasting things.

Apparently I haven't learned my lesson, because I'm now going to doomcast another apparent juggernaut going strong. YouTube.

The reasoning is a lot simpler this time around: The YouTube staff is simply unable to keep up with the sheer deluge of copyrighted materials being shared by its members. A few easy searches are able to turn up quite a few things to make those miserly copyright holders downright furious.

For example, complete anime series. Hmm, Tenchi Muyo GXP for $81 + tax or simply search and download from YouTube? I found links to complete GXP episodes listed as having been uploaded over six months ago.

I know that the YouTube staff is trying to appease copyright holders, because their desperate efforts are spilling over to legitimate parody creators like LittleKuriboh. Yet, with six month old bootlegs floating around, clearly their staffers are no match to police the amount of data they're hosting.

Enjoy your easy access to bootlegs while it lasts, as it's probably only a matter of time until something drastic happens to YouTube. Nostrageldus has spoken.

On the gaming front...

I've discovered the Parappa the Rapper series. Only 9 years late on that one. I saw it around, of course, but I never realized how cool it was until I saw some YouTubes of it in action. I like how it's a fun game with kid-friendly content, the artistic style being innocent while not to the point of nauseatingly so. If I'm into Rhythm games all of a sudden, maybe I should look into completing Space Channel 9: Special Addition. I managed to find a copy of Um Jammer Lammy for cheap on Amazon, and shelled out for a copy. Regrettably, Parappa The Rapper itself cost $50, so was well outside of the acceptable price range of a 1996 PS1 game for me. It's probably cheaper re-released on the PSP.

Today marks the official start of Spring Break. I'm thinking I'll spend a lot of it in Oblivion and City of Heroes, but I honestly can't say where my whims will take me for certain.

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