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Troy’s Crock Pot: Goodbye Gleemax, we hardly got to know each other through you

What’s the Crock Pot? Just a simmering bowl of lentils and herbs, with a dash of DMing observations. Don’t be afraid to dip in your ladle and stir, or throw in something from your own spice rack.

Gaming brains don’t belong in jars

Wizards of the Coast will pull the plug on the gaming social networking site Gleemax in September.

The site was difficult to navigate — a crippling factor for a community-building website. It had other conceptual problems, such as failing to recognize that gamers are actually a collection of communities of layered and overlapping interests.   

Blog posting was always problematic. There was an even chance of your post getting eaten at some point. 

And the neon green motif? Well, it wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes.

I’m taking my brain and going home

It’s unfortunate it failed.

The gaming community(ies) would have benefited by the kind of site that Gleemax always promised it would become.

But WOTC never demonstrated the expertise to run such a site effectively, nor did it, by all appearances, approach those with the experience of building community sites to make it work.

Likewise, it closed down other communications mediums (such as the pdf Knowledge Arcana — which published a variety of user-contributed gaming articles — and print versions of Dragon and Dungeon magazines — which had advertising and editorial muscle) that could have publicized and marketed it to roleplayers.

Gleemax was never a double-word score

Hasbro is rightly and smartly concerned about protecting its intellectual properties. For example: It doesn’t want Facebook — another social networking site, incidentally — using a knockoff Scrabble game, and has taken legal action to remedy this. 

Fair enough. Hasbro should be diligent in this regard.

But knowing the popularity of the game, does Hasbro have the official Scrabble game online at Gleemax to attract new users, to promote a networking site of its own and reward current users? No.

Did Gleemax fail because it doesn’t have Scrabble? Of course not. But missed opportunities like this are indicative of Gleemax’s shortcomings.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "Troy’s Crock Pot: Goodbye Gleemax, we hardly got to know each other through you"

#1 Comment By ChattyDM On July 31, 2008 @ 4:31 am

I’m a ChattyDM and I approve of this well thought out, insightful message.

Seriously (well, less whimsically then), the point about spending efforts squelching Facebook’s Scrabble clone and not offering a Scrabble game on Gleemax is spot on!

Less lawyers with free time, more Web Developers please!

#2 Comment By Ben Overmyer On July 31, 2008 @ 7:06 am

Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro have always, and will always, fail at software and web development. They have neither the talent nor the inclination to acquire the talent necessary to produce quality work.

As such, there will never, ever be a WotC/Hasbro software product worth using. Ever.

I agree with Chatty – they need to fire half their lawyers and use the extra money to hire some real web developers. Like me, for instance! Sheesh, at this point I’d almost be willing to rebuild Gleemax as a proper socnet site for free. Almost.

#3 Comment By LesInk On July 31, 2008 @ 8:12 am

“Good riddens to bad rubbish.”

This is aimed at the product formerly known as Gleemax, not to the people who used it.

I didn’t like it because I didn’t know how to use it (more than simple posts) and it always broke in the strangest of ways. The layout bothered me and visually it was unappealing. I could never find anything worth while and anything that was worth while took me back to wizards.com.

And yet, as a software engineer, I didn’t see anything that could not be done in a couple of weeks starting with an existing forums package.

::scratching head::

Moving on …

#4 Comment By drow On July 31, 2008 @ 8:52 am

rest in peace, oh thou unworthy pile of rubbish. thou anarchic conglomeration, hacked together from the flotsam of other inferior digital initiatives, and granted horrific unlife by the power of your mad colour scheme. thou un-navigable mess, thou shoddy code, thou unappealing wretch. rest in peace, forever.

#5 Comment By madraziel On July 31, 2008 @ 9:32 am

Amen! I linked to this and riffed onto some of my own complaints about WotC’s digital initiatives over at my campaign/dm musing website: [1]

let’s hope this message starts to spread and finds its way into some ears at Wizards…

#6 Comment By Martin Ralya On July 31, 2008 @ 9:49 am

[2] when it launched was terrible, and I only visited it a few times after that, mostly following links from other sites. Every time I did go back, the clunky and ugly factors still hadn’t gone away — I guess they never did?

Even though I still don’t think I was part of Gleemax’s target audience, I also still like the basic idea — done right, it could be pretty useful to gamers.

#7 Comment By Ben Overmyer On July 31, 2008 @ 9:52 am

You know, I still own the (dormant) domain name guildofgamers.org. Would anyone be interested in building our own gamer social network?

#8 Comment By brcarl On July 31, 2008 @ 11:05 am

Other than the reasons listed multiple times in the comments above, I think another huge factor in Gleemax’s failure was WotC/Hasboro’s horrible promotion and marketing of the site.

Social sites, by definition, thrive because the participating community wants to be there and enjoys the time spent there. The most likely driving forces behind these two things are a combination of useful/cool features and a critical mass of friends (and potential friends). Gleemax blew the features part, and so the presence never even started to approach the population needed to sustain it.

There are SOOO many alternatives on the web right now; WotC needs to figure out how to offer something that gamers want that they can’t get anywhere else. …or at least features that they can get elsewhere, but that work better for them there. Ferinstance, why not copy Nearbygamers.com, but make it more hip (ie., graphics) and easier to use? Also, make damn sure that when D&Di comes on-line that it’s fully integrated: shared “friend” lists for building “parties,” easy way to share files with friends, etc.

This is not rocket science, really. The Web 2.0 thing is a known recipe; WotC just needs to get a team to actually design and build it.

#9 Comment By argokirby On July 31, 2008 @ 11:35 am

Okay, so maybe I’m a dork, but I never got the impression that Gleemax was supposed to be a social networking web site like Facebook. Now that I hear everyone discussing it like that I am kinda doing a face slap for not getting it.

But, what I’m getting at here is that Gleemax was never well presented. I didn’t realize I could create my own blog on Gleemax, but it seems I could have.

Why is this, I’m a web developer for goodness sake, I’m not an idiot, but I think that Gleemax was so poorly designed and marketed and explained that I pretty much ignored it. Sure I read the WOTC blogs and the DND Forums but that is it. I honestly did not realize that Gleemax had any other functionality.

But, what do you want from a Brain in a Jar… If you put my brain in a Jar it would probably be less effective than it currently is…probably.

#10 Comment By gnome-eater On July 31, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

I agree with this entirely. I felt like there was a time, pre-gleemax, where the WoTC boards were really a great place to go for ideas, comments, rulings, and all sort of interesting community-created ideas. Then something slowly took over the boards – horrible navigation, punishing the community for being creative…

All this and more is what convinces me Pathfinder will prevail – not only does it have community input, it actually develops products -for- the community.

A new era is dawning.

#11 Comment By davethegame On July 31, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

Reading through all of this, I have to come to a new conclusion.

WotC’s web offerings will never be accepted among D&D fans. Why? 90% of them seem to be web designers, developers, and/or programmers.

And so we’ll always assume we could have done a better job 🙂

#12 Comment By madraziel On July 31, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

DaveTheGame —

That’s exactly my point! The D&D community, for whatever reasons (ahem, cough, cough), is filled with computer geeks. If WotC simply let down their walls and admitted that they are a publishing company that publishes RPG books and supplements, card games, minis, and assorted paraphernalia … well, then they could leave it to the geeks to build their digital brand for them. And hey, if they have a crazy, expensive digital idea like D&D Gametable, they can go hire some pros to build that. But let us hobbyists build (and compete with each other for top honors for) the next generation of web-based gaming tools, indices, codexes, and character generators.

Because clearly there’s desire HERE, but there’s apparently not enough talent OVER THERE.

#13 Comment By Grogtard On July 31, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

Unlike the 3.x vs 4th Ed squabbles, I haven’t seen or heard from a single person who has said that they will miss Gleemax. It was poorly done. Plain and simple. Plus WOTC was behind the times. Gaming communities are all over the web already. It was too little, too late. The big killer for me was the [3]. For the link weary:
1. User Content

By posting or submitting any text, images, designs, video, sound, code, data, lists, or other materials or information (such User-submitted content, collectively, “User Content”) to or through a Site, including without limitation on any User profile page, you hereby irrevocably grant to Wizards, its affiliates and sublicensees, a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and fully sub-licensable license, to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such User Content (in whole or in part) in any media and to incorporate the User Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed. The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such User Content, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, service mark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction.

I’m not a lawyer but if you want me to blog away on your site, I’d like to at least retain some rights…..

#14 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On July 31, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

Let us take a moment and reflect upon Gleemax. Especially let us reflect on how to keep this monstrosity from ever rising again.

I hope (in spite of all evidence to the contrary) that WotC learns from this debacle. I hope that they (for once) listen to the entire community, not just the screaming teen fans.

As mentioned above, WotC was never good with software or websites. Corporations can learn new tricks, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. I’m sorry that Dungeon and Dragon magazines were sacrificed to this piece of crap.

#15 Comment By nblade On August 1, 2008 @ 10:21 am

The funny thing is I never even heard of Gleemax before this post. I guess I’m really out of the loop.

#16 Comment By itliaf On August 1, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

It’s not all that surprising. One of the many things that was wrong with Gleemax was that even WOTC didn’t seem all that eager to associate themselves with it. They hid it away like mama hides the Garfield dinnerware when company comes over. Or like they literally had a brain in a jar somewhere they weren’t too proud of.