Glitch is the highly-anticipated online game from the TinySpeck.com, creators of the famed photo sharing site, Flickr. Over this last weekend, the still-in-development game hosted an Alpha test for selected invitees. One on our team was lucky enough to gain access to a coveted invitation-only spot, and we enjoyed the game so much we figured it was worth a sneak-peek review. So, if you’re dying to see what this game is about, look no further –at least until they update it again.
With that said, take this screenshot tour with a grain of salt. Glitch is still in Alpha development and they have a long road ahead of them before releasing it to the public. A lot of the game can change, but we’re thinking that it’s only going to get better from here.
You start out just being born, from a brain of ideas! The concept reminds me a lot of Little Big Planet, the character even resembles a sack doll. That is, your character is essentially an idea that was thought up by the Giants who are responsible for thinking up the entire universe of Glitch.
A magic rock appears, this little guy will be your companion for the duration of your playing. He is helpful, and he’ll tell you exactly what’s going down.
Following the prologue, the rock will take you on a brief tutorial to teach you the basic skills you’ll need to get around in the world of Glitch.
After completing the tutorial you emerge right smack in the middle of the world. You’re surrounded by players and objects and the world instantly becomes a giant sandbox for you. I could continue on from here, but rather than making this a boring guide, let’s look at some of the features the game incorporates.
Like most online games, Glitch has a leveling system based on XP or experience points. Experience is gained from completing quests, finding quoins, harvesting goods, and overall just interacting with the world around you.
Gardening, watch out Farmville!
If you own a house you can start your own garden. Gardening works a lot like Farmville, Farm Story, iFarm, and other addictive games that people are used to on Facebook. Did you know that 60 million people play Farmville? I almost lost hope in humanity when I heard that… Anyway, for people who do enjoy games like that, Glitch has you covered. For people that don’t enjoy it, don’t worry –gardening is not an integral part of the game and doesn’t take much time anyway <phew>.
What kind of online game would Glitch be without quests? Not a good one! So, Glitch includes quests that you’ll automatically receive as you level up different skills. You’ll also receive quests as you level up your character. Some of the quests are quite funny, one of my favorite “The Great Guzzler Challenge” prompts you to find, then drink, a dozen beers. It adds the commentary “Shotgunning is optional.”
When you complete the quest you get a reward! Groovy! Reward packages can vary greatly, but almost always consist of Energy, Mood, XP, Currants, and the occasional item.
Crafting …err, I mean Cooking
I hope you’re hungry, Glitch has a huge variety of foods for your character to eat and cook. In fact, cooking is an essential part of the game! Your character constantly requires new energy and the dedicated way of getting that is by stuffing your face with tasty snacks and drinks.
Mini-Quests & Adventures
Occasionally your magic rock buddy will offer you a mini-quest. This involves being teleported to an isolated instance outside of the normal game world. Here you have to complete a task, sometimes they are really absurd, but they are always entertaining.
Below is a screenshot of me exploring Rainbow Run, a crazy place where your task is to collect 30 quoins before the timer runs out. It reminded me a bit of Charlie the Unicorn but that’s probably just me.
Occasionally you might find a golden ticket, this will open up a mini-game that you can play to win special prizes. Mini-games are still a bit buggy at this point in development.
Quoins & Currants – The currency of the game
You were probably wondering this whole time: “what are quoins and currants,” so here I’ll explain. Quoins are little objects that are floating on propellers throughout the game, they have all sorts of items that you need from XP to Energy or Mood. Your character is limited to collecting a certain number of Quoins per day.
Currants on the other hand are the currency the game, in other games it’s called Gold, money, dollars, etc…
Mining & Harvesting Goods
In Glitch you need stuff, and the only way to get it is by going out there and harvesting it! There are plenty of different ways to harvest items; in fact there are too many to really cover them all! One of my favorite though, has to be mining rocks.
When you see a tree, you can water and care for it. In return the tree will yield fruit or some other product for you to harvest.
Sometimes you’ll just find stuff laying around on the ground. Finders keepers!
When you feel like settling down, or you just need a place to store your junk, that is where player housing comes in handy. You can purchase a house for a flat rate, the price varies depending on size. From what we saw there weren’t too many houses available in the popular locations, they are still developing solutions for that.
There are a lot of houses to choose from, here’s a shot with every type of house with the external shot next to the internal shot.
Inside the house you get cabinets and cases to hold your trophies and junk.
You can play the game solo, or you can take part in the the active community. Each different “Street” in the game can be upgraded and it takes the effort of everyone to get it there. You can also interact with other people via on-screen chat, or trade with them by clicking on their character.
This part is still under development, though already they have a huge assortment of customizations you can make to your character to give him a unique look.
Yes, you can die… from starvation!
At the top of your screen you have your level, XP, Energy, and Mood meters. If your energy or mood drop to zero you’re character will keel over. That is why it is really important to have some food with you at all times. It felt a little“Sim” ish… but is fairly simple and doesn’t dominate the game.
If you do die, it isn’t too big of a deal. You get sent to a place called “Purgatory” where you have to complete some menial task to be brought back to life. Overall, dying isn’t a very common occurrence and it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds for you to undo it. The only consequence is that your character will have very low energy and mood upon reviving –you need to find some food quick!
Selling Your Loot & Making Money
In Glitch, currants power the economy. If you need tools, you need currants to buy them. You can make money by selling items to NPC’s, completing quests, or trading with other players. Some items are worth significantly more than other items, but money shouldn’t be a problem for you as long as you are completing quests.
Additionally if you want to sell items you can put them up for auction. The Glitch auction system is still very new and nobody really knows about it, but it’s there and hopefully they’ll develop it into something useful.
Getting from Here to There
The world of Glitch is big, and upon official release it will be continually expanding. To help prevent you from getting lost, Tiny Speck has included a built-in map system for navigating the massive continents.
To travel between areas, you use sign posts located at either end of each street. Just click the name of the street you would like to go to and bam; instantly teleported.
If walking isn’t your style, they are developing a teleportation system. You can add teleporting to your character’s arsenal by learning the skill for it.
Skill System & Tree
The skill learning system in Glitch is easy, just pick the skill you want to learn and the game will automatically learn it for you. Each skill takes different amounts of time to learn, but it will learn even while you are offline. The skill-tree itself looks a lot like a periodic table and fits in perfectly with the nature of the game.
There is a huge variety of skills you can learn in Glitch! Each skill is different but follows a skill tree that will eventually be required for a more advanced skill. Tiny Speck was smart and included all of the information you need for skills on one page.
Skills have only one catch, you have to learn one at a time. Sorry, no double-dipping allowed. You can decrease the amount of time the game takes to learn skills, but even then none of them take more than an hour or three.
Some items in the game give you super powers and other bonuses. Spinach for example, lets you jump higher than a kangaroo.
Glitch was originally planned to launch in Fall of 2010. Needless to say, it got pushed back. On 11/22/2010 they updated the front page to say:
It is currently in development and will launch in early 2011.
As for testers, the game is still considered in “Alpha testing”. Tests come in bursts and usually aren’t up for more than days at a time, so testers have to keep their eyes and ears open if they want to their hands on actual play time.
If you want a chance at getting in early, you can sign up for early access at glitch.com. They’ll ask for your email address and make you fill out a brief survey. Note that there aren’t very many people in Alpha -I’d say less than 1000 – so don’t feel bad if you never get an invite.
Overall, I had a lot of fun playing Glitch and learning about this groovy new world. I love the interface, graphics, quirky new game concepts and the overall feel of the game. It really is like a breath of fresh air from other MMPORG’s where you spend your time grinding away brain cells in the endless loop of leveling. Glitch keeps things fun, original and “cozy”… however I’m not sure how to explain that…
The creators of Glitch are really onto something and I look forward for the final release especially from the last report TinySpeck plans to keep things free forever. Yeah, I like that!