Glitch: Browser-Based Game of Exploration And… Pig Petting
Before we continue, a little more name-dropping: one of the creators behind Glitch is Stewart Butterfield, one of the co-founders of Flickr. You can read a bit more about his involvement in this Gamasutra interview.
What is Glitch exactly? That’s kind of hard to pin down. I’ve been playing around inside there for a little while, and it’s a lot of things – easy to define isn’t one of them. Here’s a quick video, introducing the world to new players:
Basically, Glitch is a MMOG (Massively Multipleyer Online Game). You are inhabiting a constantly changing, updating world along with everyone else – with tons of objects and people to interact with, along the way. Also, there’s a skill tree that you can progress through, where you learn new abilities and gain access to new tools. The more skills you learn, the more you can interact and work with the objects you find.
The scope and interactivity of the game is, honestly, quite staggering. Everything in the game feels interconnected, and the sheer number of ways you can use or combine objects is really kind of amazing, when you stop to think about it.
In addition to this aspect of the game, it’s got a very playful feel to it. There are a lot of silly puns throughout, and the world is designed for exploring and play.
Here’s an example: one of the many creatures in the world of Glitch are pigs. You can walk up to one and talk to it, or feed it. You can also pet a pig (which makes it very happy). Once you pet a pig, a new option appears entitled “Nibble.” If you then nibble the pig, you get some meat. Oftentimes, there will be some kind of response back from the pig after you nibble him, like No, go ahead… you’ve earned it.
Did I mention there are also badges in this game? Many of them are random and unexpected, and quite pleasant when they appear out of the blue. After petting a lot of pigs, trying to get food… I got this badge after I did this 11 times. Silly and fun.
Currently, Glitch is in open beta. The game is available to in short bursts, and then goes offline while they reconfigure and recalibrate. Open beta means that the game isn’t available for everyone to play, but you can sign up and ask to be added to their tester list. I got interested, and signed up about two weeks ago, and got in after a short while.
Here’s something that I think they’ve done really well: you can sign up with just your basic info, or you can sign up using Facebook Connect. If you choose to sign up using Connect though, you will be placed higher up in the queue (above those who didn’t use FB Connect). If you also choose to follow the game on Twitter, you can also get notifications of queue-jumping links, where you can get your invite even faster.
I like how there’s a tangible benefit to using something like FB Connect. Most sites use it as convenience, but this approach places a degree of value on the exchange of information. I’m giving up info about myself (more than I would through standard registration), but in return I get the thing I wanted a little faster. I’m loathe to use FB Connect if I can avoid it, but I did in this case to up my chances. Pretty savvy setup.
The thing with the open beta is that… everything in the world, all your badges and achievements and items, will eventually get destroyed. Once they’re done with beta testing, they’ll reset the entire world before opening the doors to the public. Which is an odd thing to know, as I’m going through and trying to level up and buy things, etc. Even with the impending destruction of everything I’ve worked to achieve, I still find the world a little fascinating. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s fun to just explore and play and try to level up.
I’m a sucker for XP-based games, as there’s something about that game mechanic that’s incredibly satisfying to me. So far… I’ve been playing a lot more than I thought I would. I didn’t think this game would have been that interesting to me, but I keep going back for some reason. We”ll see how long I remain interested.
// Edit – I just found out that as a tester, I can invite up to 3 of my friends from Facebook. If you’re interested, drop a message below (or shoot me a message on FB/Twitter/G+).