What Lem doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Also, what Lem doesn’t unknow is not worth unknowing.

So, blowing the dust off of this old thing, I return in the middle of my holidays with a post about a game I’ve been playing the past week, by the name of Glitch. It’s a web-based MMO by a group called Tiny Speck, and is still in beta, so when I got an invite without remembering that I registered my interest, I felt inclined to give it a shot. So, about 12 hours in, at level 13, here’s my thoughts on it so far and whatnot.

The first thing you need to know about Glitch is that it’s an MMORPG without combat. Stalking some wikis I’ve heard tales of a looming threat but I’ve seen no enemies and had to do no min-maxing during the time I’ve invested, so I’m fairly confident that if there IS combat of a sort, it’s optional. Instead the ways you’ll be engaged include
exploring, farming, exploring, crafting items from furniture to booze, exploring, decorating your house, exploring, and last but not least, exploring. What I am saying is that there is a lot of map to look through and that it is surprisingly fun to do so, at least for the first five hours or so (longer if you’re pacing yourself better than me, seeing as I was basically systematically visiting every area for the exp bonuses it leads to). All the
environments are 2D, rocking the simple platform mechanics, and while two paths in the same region might look a little samey, there’s plenty of regions and most of them sport a distinctive look, from forest to plains to caverns to snow to… weird space-or-is-it-the-special-zone land.

“I knew I shoulda taken that left at Albuquerque…”

The art’s cheap and cheerful, and lends itself to the light and playful angle the “story” angles for, namely that the whole world is the product of eleven giants’ imagination. There aren’t a great many types of animal to fit the varied areas yet, so get used to PIGS AND BUTTERFLIES IN SORTA-SPAAAAAAAAACE, though hopefully this will be changed in the future. It’s a tad jarring that you can be anywhere and still find the same old butterflies.

Anyway, this stereotypical reviewy stuff is boring me now so lets get down to what I find interesting about it.

Firstly, the noncombat. Maintaining a community without any single endgoal or e-penis yardstick is pretty hard, but somehow they’ve done it. I’m not sure how large their active beta community is, but when they originally “released” the game there were 27000 testers. The core engagement seems to be about working with others, and while places do seem a bit empty from time to time, half the “streets” you walk down were made by the community at one point or another. I don’t know how long it’ll hold my attention, as MMO and community-averse as I am, but at the moment I’m enjoying a game where I don’t have to kill fifteen smartass ducks and bring back their nails or whatever.

Secondly, those streets I mentioned earlier?

AHEM

Yeah.

I don’t even know WHY I love this idea. Possibly just because of the idea of using Google Maps and REAL streets to generate an infinite world. Maybe even use GPS or QR codes so that you can drop items into the game world at your present location by scanning things in the real world (I also currently have a thing for the badassness of QR codes
and the ubiquity of devices that can read them nowadays) and from there the possibilities are endless.

A roundabout would be like playing Odin Sphere.

The way Glitch has it is incredibly well-done, with tracking of which streets you’ve been down before (basically essential for exploring) and GPS to help you find your way from one place to another quickly. It also just creates this
excellent sense of interconnectedness, especially when a path can go above or under the ground and where you come out depends on how you entered it.

Thirdly-sorta, everything gets rewarded. Everything. Wanna explore? Bam, we’ll tuck away a shiny iMG (lets you get upgrades and shiny housestuff and is needed for levelling up) package somewhere in every new street you visit, and if you visit every street in a region we’ll give you an achievement, with an iMG bonus and favor with the Giant in
charge of exploring. You want to make shiny things? Go for it. We’ll give you a little bonus for every thing you make, achievements at incremental levels (with bonus recipes rewarded in some cases), and on top of that the things you make may help you make MORE shiny things. Wanna just hang around and chat with other players? There’s an app for that, with rewards for talking to lots of people, becoming friends with people, trading with people, having people over at your house, “splanking” people (I believe it involves smacking their butt with a board), giving gifts, you get the point. Honestly I don’t think achievements is what they should’ve called them so much as milestones, but I’m not about to bitch about that when I approve of their existence so much. It makes you want to try new things, and gives you ideas on things you can do, but at the same time saying “That thing you’re doing? That’s cool too. Have a cookie.”

If I had to nitpick I’d say that the way character upgrades are organised by the cards system is a bit frustrating at times, generally when you want some specific thing and it doesn’t show up, though I will give it credit for the epic feeling you get when That One Upgrade finally shows itself in a reshuffle. I’d also say the game needs more actual Quests and some more interesting navigation chances. It’d be nice to feel like my nvestment in Levitation was beneficial outside of something other than laziness.

Oh, and from a tech perspective it’s got a pretty nice API, too.

Anyways, Glitch is invite-only beta at the moment but you can probably wrangle one if you really want, I’ve played it for about 4 days as of writing this sentence and I’m sliiiiiightly hooked. On an MMO. Where you milk butterflies so that you can turn it into cheese.

Living the dream, clearly.

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