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Nerd Watching: Ripping into Wizbook

Written by Nicholas - Published on August 29, 2009

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

Moment of Joy

Off the top, I’d like to give you some good news. The new series of D&D podcasts staring Wil Wheaton, Scott Kurtz and the guys of Penny Arcade started this week. A new set of podcasts staring Omin, Jim Darkmagic and the whole Aquistions Incorporated crew. Chris Perkins has stepped in behind the screen once again and it seems the Acq Inc boys will be doing battle with bandits and dwarven desperatos this time around. The first installment can be found here, runs half an hour and is free to everyone.

If you’re not familiar with the project, this is the third series of 4e actual play podcasts with the very funny people. As I’ve talked about before, you can learn a lot from listening to others play. Plus it is very entertaining!

The Wizards of Social Networking

Well, I’ve put it off as long as I could. It’s time to talk about the launch of the new Wizards Community site. The site has already gained the nickname “Wizbook”. As you might guess from the name, the site works similarly to social networking sites like Facebook. You set up a profile with informations like your bio, hobbies, favorite TV shows, etc. Of course, since this is for gamers, you also select what games you play and your favorite campaign settings. You post pictures of yourself, friend people and join groups just as you would on Facebook.

Of course, the site does more than just copy Facebook. It also includes a revamped official WotC forums, revamped staff blogs, video uploads and a wiki for posting both general game info and tracking your own campaigns. The interface is rather slick and despite only being in beta, I haven’t had an technical problems with the site yet.

Fulfilling my duties as your resident nerd watcher, I created an account for myself. You can find me here and Yax here.

Why? Why? Why?

I must admit, Wizards has accomplished something quite impressive here. They have managed to form an unnatural union of all Web 2.0 sites. I just have to ask myself why. What need was this site designed to fill?

I certainly didn’t need another social networking site. I’m signed up for several that I’m already ignoring and didn’t sign up at all for many more.  I don’t sit around wishing that I had an opportunity to friend everyone that I sort of know all over again. Maybe if there was something very innovative on it I would be happy to sign up for more social networking. Wizbook doesn’t bring anything new to that front, aside from adding a few gaming specific questions to the profile section.

The WotC forums were in dire need of a revamp, so kudos there. But that doesn’t justify the need for the rest of the site. I enjoy reading the staff blogs, but they have been around for a long time. The problem wasn’t with their layout, but that most of the staff made only a couple of posts before abandoning them. The new site seems to have rekindled the interest in them, but I doubt it will last this time either. They are busy guys and gals who have other things to be doing.

The campaign wiki is a good idea, but I already have a guy for that.

The Big Finish

I’m not saying that every site needs to be reinvent the wheel. I’m fine with sites that take an old idea and improve it or put a new spin on it. But that’s not what Wizbook does. It is a collage of old ideas put together with no noticable improvement.

It may seem strange to say at this point, but it is not a bad site. In fact, it is quite a good site. The works well at what it does. Unfortunately, what it does is try to solve problems I either didn’t have or have already dealt with.

Have you signed up for Wizbook? Tell us your thoughts about it in the comment section!

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.



14 Responses to “Nerd Watching: Ripping into Wizbook”
  1. Dyson Logos says:

    The social networking aspect IMO is a vast improvement over typical forum design. This is something that all forums will have in time and it improves the accessibility of very large forums like Wizards.

    The biggest advantage is the ability to track interesting conversations without having to read all 100 or so forums that they host. By friending the people whom you have interesting conversations with, their forum postings show up on your homepage, so you get to see where they are currently “talking”.

    The addition of photo galleries and groups is genius. It allows just about everyone to have their own private forum on the site – a great place to hash out ideas or to work only with a limited field of people instead of the entire field that uses the forums. The photo galleries means that image hosting is simpler for people who don’t have their own websites or blogs that can host their photos for them.

    Finally, the home pages and wikis allow users to save fan-created content in a location that isn’t burried in the forums proper.

    Again, all these elements are available to us elsewhere, but not everyone has their own website or wants to travel to 5 different sites to maintain their “off-forum” materials. I look forward to the future when most major forums online have these kinds of tools for their user base.

  2. Hunter Rose says:

    Honestly, I haven’t been on the forums in well over a year. I knew I was over them when I received the notice that my long-time handle for all related hobbies was changed from ‘Hunter Rose’ to ‘Hunter_Rose2’–I didn’t flinch.

    I haven’t looked at the redesign, the same as I haven’t signed up for the monthly services. For all the things I like about 4E, I’m not as comfortable playing with the system to design as I was with 3/3.5 and that’s what I mostly used the forums for. And, honestly, I simply don’t have the time to spare for it.

    If I achieve the time and comfort level to be creative with 4E, I may look into the forums again but I don’t expect that to be anytime soon.

  3. Wyatt says:

    I’m so happy to see Wizbook catching on.

  4. Wyatt says:

    By which I mean the nickname. Sigh.

  5. Pinwiz says:

    “The WotC forums were in dire need of a revamp, so kudos there. But that doesn’t justify the need for the rest of the site.”

    Why not? The site isn’t for people like you who already have a large RPG blogroll or have discovered their preferred tools. Wizards.com is the home of the activity for the casual player, and it’s high time that their support tools represented that.

  6. Noumenon says:

    I hope Wizards is able to sell this idea to its customers as effectively as Dyson just sold it to me. What a great idea — and that it’s well-implemented, too, for Wizards is a gigantic step forward.

  7. Lydian Coda says:

    Note the Terms of Service ( http://is.gd/2Huuk ), first paragraph under 1. User Content – makes me very reluctant to utilize the site, especially the wiki. Too onerous for me.

  8. Yax says:

    @PinWiz: True. Wizbook probably has a bigger impact on casual players who aren’t part of an online community yet.

  9. Pinwiz has the best point here – Wizbook isn’t necessarily for you. Just like how Shelly Mazzanoble’s book wasn’t for me. There are many types of gamers out there and while there’s a huge population of the hardcore people who have already solved the problems ourselves, there’s a legion of new, returning, or casual gamers who haven’t yet. Kudos to Wizards for meeting that need in-house. :)

    Kudos to WyattSalazar for christening it Wizbook. I’m hoping it sticks. ;-)

  10. Yax says:

    @GDG: Did you see WOTC people call it Wizbook?

  11. operations says:

    I am less than impressed with the site. I can’t log in. I can log into the Wizards.com support site, and DDI, but not the community which uses the same login and password. It is very frustrating.

    And a guest inspection of the forums has shown that my user name, ‘operations’, has been eaten by zombiegleemax. I had that account since 2002. I am not happy.

  12. operations says:

    Yeah… and in trying to ‘help’, customer service has only succeeded in cutting me off from DDI now too.

    I never thought I’d WANT Gleemax back…

  13. operations says:

    It gets better!

    Finally deciding that my old account was not going to be recovered by those fools they have in tech support, I made a new one. Today. And today I got the following message via their community, for kids and adults alike!

    (I hope this formatting isn’t too bad…)

    >From: Wanitakiss
    >Recieved: Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 03:47pm
    >Hello My Dear,
    >My name is wanita i saw your profile here (wizards.com) today and became intrested in >you,i will also like to know you more,and i want you to send a mail to my email >address so i can give you my picture for you to know whom l am.Here is my email address
    >i believe we can move from here.I am waiting for your mail to my email address >above.miss wanita(Remeber the distance or colour does not matter but love matters alot >in life) Please reply me with my email address here, i will like to be your friend i >know you will alos like to become my friend have a nice day and god bless you

    Yeah. Wow. Just. Fraking. Wow.

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