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glitch v2.0
January 4, 2014 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Missing Glitch? A number of projects have sprung up to reboot the game. Whimsy, Children of Ur, and MVURXI have working demos, while Eleven is still under development.
posted by divabat (20 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

It's funny, because these are way more ambitious than the old Game Neverending, which only had one abortive clone so far as I can tell.
posted by cellphone at 6:40 PM on January 4

I miss Game Neverending much more than I miss Glitch :(
posted by yeoz at 6:46 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]

Oh, please succeed guys.

A potential problem with these projects is that a large part of the fun of a MMORPG, and especially a heavily social MMORPG like Glitch, which reminded me more than most games of the good old days of visionary virtual worlds, is that the whole point of them requires having a lot of users.

So in a way, half of the challenge of running a MMORPG isn't technical, it's promotional. The same game with 100 users isn't nearly the same game with 1,000. There's a real critical mass aspect here. And with four projects in the works, even if they manage to regain Glitch's entire userbase, which wasn't enough to save it, that will be diluted four ways.

Then there's the opposite problem: they could somehow become wildly popular, succeed where Glitch failed, and then fail themselves, because server power is costly, and the more popular the game is, the more money it'll cost to run, which will jeopardize these projects' chances of success. There's a reason not a lot of MMORPGs are done as free community projects.

Yeah, just call me the NEIIIGHSAYER. I'd love to be proven wrong though. The Glitch fans remind me of bronies -- and I mean that in the best possible way, they're diehard obsessives full of love and energy. In the old days of the internet it seems like all you needed was talent and passion, that you could power through any problem with enough fervor. I have my fingers crossed.
posted by JHarris at 8:42 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm not sure why the four aren't teaming up to recreate Glitch together rather than have separate projects.
posted by divabat at 9:44 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

JHarris: What I'm hoping for is the ability to spin up a Glitch instance on a VPS (which are not as expensive as they used to be!) for you and your friends--I think it could be a lot like Minecraft, where people have their own servers with the other people that they know. Glitch actually showed a bunch of strain as soon as a decent number of people were on at once, or in the same area, so I'm not sure it needs to have everybody all on one server to be worthwhile.
posted by foxfirefey at 9:58 PM on January 4

Unfortunately, doing it that way means you have your own micro-Glitch, which is a lot less interesting as a MMORPG.

Hmm. Maybe as a collection of connected microworlds it could work. However some of the fun of Glitch comes from the constructed content, like the puzzles and such, which don't work as well when people are making their own stuff because game and puzzle design is still hard for the casual user, and the overarching milleu, atmosphere and story, which would suffer if people instanced their own world sections because it's only a matter of time until you'd stumble upon S0NICWORLD PAL AROUND WITH TAILS AND AMY COLECT CHAOS EMERELDS TO BECOME MEGASWEET NEOSONIC WITH FLAMING SWORD!!1!

The atmosphere in Glitch was wonderful and gentle. That's not something that fan content does well.
posted by JHarris at 10:19 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

I swear there's another one someone just showed me the other day.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:06 PM on January 4

I'd have liked Glitch more if I could have created puzzles and things in it, but I can see that this would have made support and policing exponentially more complicated.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:22 PM on January 4

All of the reasons why Glitch failed didn't just magically go away. I don't really see how these projects are addressing those issues, except possibly the promise of a mobile port for the Whimsy one (which isn't enough in my opinion). The people running it didn't shut it down because they got bored or were under resourced or not capable. I think it's going to take more than a plucky few fans cobbling stuff together to make something that attracts, and even more importantly and difficulty keeps!, enough players to be viable given the original team couldn't.
posted by shelleycat at 12:10 AM on January 5

I'd have liked Glitch more if I could have created puzzles and things in it

So would I, so would many people. But unfortunately most people really aren't that good at it, or over-rely on pop culture material that practically shouts out loud UNPROFESSIONAL.
posted by JHarris at 12:44 AM on January 5

It's as if someone's dug up Grandma's corpse and sat it at the Christmas table saying, "Look, there's still a bit of life in this old girl!"
posted by ColdChef at 7:35 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Please tell me you are not speaking from experience, ColdChef.
posted by ericost at 8:27 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]

These are depressing. They're all, "It's just like Glitch, except way buggier and with no other users and nothing to do!"

posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 AM on January 5

Glitch the concept was just amazing, I loved everything about it. Glitch the game was horrid, click to get a progress bar - level up to decrease progress bar time ect ect. Everything about glitch anticipated the rise of , or was invented at the same time as modern ios IAP giants but in an odd format.

Its annoying because it goes next to eve in games I sunk at least 100 hours into before realising I loved the idea not the execution.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 11:44 AM on January 5

I miss Glitch and would think it fun to play even on a small server with a few people...
posted by geeklizzard at 3:53 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Glitch struck me as less MMORPG, more graphical chat room with the ability to do a few things like puzzles and manufacturing silly stuff. Like sparkle powder, which was very accurately also known as lag powder.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:13 PM on January 5

Hi! I'm a member of the Eleven project, and I'd like to take this opportunity to address some of the questions and concerns that have been posted here.

As for the question of how many users we're anticipating, I can't give an exact answer. I do, however, know that we have 498 likes on Facebook and 150 followers on Twitter (which includes quite a few of the good people at Tiny Speck). As for the problem of having too many users to be able to run servers effectively, I've analyzed that in depth. Cal gave us this information: "there were (i think) 6 game servers using 12 GB of memory and 6 storage servers using the same."

We're not at the point where this really needs to be determined yet, but twelve of these would vastly out-spec that which TS was using, and cost far less ($960/month total). I *believe* they were paying somewhere around that much for just one of their servers (although I could be entirely wrong there). Maybe four years ago when they leased the servers, pricing was just that bad, but it's much cheaper now. Furthermore, the new server (running on node.js) should achieve better performance than the old one (running on a heavily patched Rhino).

As for why there are separate projects as opposed to one much larger project, it's mainly differing goals. For example, I'm aware of one project that intended to make an HTML5 client, and add more RPG elements to the game. Of course, they've every right to do this, although we were happy with Glitch as it was and aren't particularly interested in adding RPG elements.

The HTML5 question gets asked a lot (as in, I think literally everyone who's joined our Slack instance in the last month has asked it at some point or another), so it's worth mentioning that we're keeping the Flash client for (numerous) good reasons. First, it's close to a million fewer lines of code to write, meaning we can launch faster. In addition, Cal informed us that (contrary to popular belief) it would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the performance delivered by the Flash client using HTML5. Furthermore, Glitch just isn't a game that could work on mobile, so the mobile compatibility wouldn't be worth it. Imagine the difficulty of socializing (it is a social game after all; elements like talking to other players are a core part of the experience) on a touch keyboard, while also attempting to actually play the game. Finally (and this is just my personal opinion; the other things we've all discussed as a team), it's a matter of familiarity. By preserving the Flash client almost exactly as provided to us by Tiny Speck, it extensively preserves the "feel" of everything.

Addressing the question of personal servers, we're planning to open-source our work, meaning you will indeed be able to use it to make your own server! Assuming a not-huge number of players, this shouldn't take too many resources. We're currently doing all our testing on a throwaway, single-player version of the server we're running on our own machines.

I think I've answered everything that I could interpret as a question as opposed to outright snark (which we'll answer in the best possible way - with a working product at some time in the future ;) ). If anyone has any other questions for me, I'll be around and try my best to answer them.
posted by JustinD at 7:54 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]

Thank you for the information, JustinD! I suggest keeping an eye open for HTML5 in the future even if it's not suitable at the moment though -- the winds still seem to be blowing against Flash, most of the time when Firefox stalls on my machine it turns out Flash is to blame, the no-Linux-updates thing is terrible, it's not great on Mac either, and in the end some of those mobile users are using keyboards, like Android netbooks.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

It's as if someone's dug up Grandma's corpse and sat it at the Christmas table saying, "Look, there's still a bit of life in this old girl!"

Really, lots of commercial projects die for reasons other than their quality. An analogy for your reasoning might be "They failed to do something. Let's never try to do that thing ourselves, because the Market Is God."
posted by JHarris at 8:02 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I'm not a developer, but based on comments from Tiny Speck, Glitch's largest expenses were personnel and infrastructure (servers). The former can be mostly handled by communities (we hope!), but for the latter, I have a couple ideas.

For one, I think Tiny Speck developed Glitch in a way that wasn't all that performant long term. They've acknowledged that building on Flash ultimately hurt them for a variety of reasons (infrastructure, mobile, speed of development). Any project that intends to re-build Glitch, should build on HTML5. It's good to see most projects are doing just that!

Second, to reduce server load, I'd actually download nearly all of the resources the first time they were used and store them locally (localstorage or web sql storage) along with a key that was checked the next time the resource was used to see if it needed an update. Glitch did this to an extent, but had to purge resources frequently (from what I could tell), resulting in frequent downloads of unchanged resources. Because of the complexity of its landscapes, this resulted in slow loading time between streets as well as increased server load. Ideally, a client should never re-download a resource unless it's changed.

I also have a couple of crazier, unrelated ideas...

I'm scared of losing my profile again. All the hard work I and others put into our characters in Glitch got lost. If these projects are building essentially the same thing but aren't working together (for whatever reasons), perhaps they can agree on a standard character profile. That is, I should be able to take my character between worlds and use it. To some extent, this future-proofs Glitch, letting me leave one world for another if it's not being maintained. It also allows for...

Wouldn't it be great if these worlds could interoperate? Perhaps it'd take a while to get there, but an API that allowed you to literally move between the worlds in-game would be amazing. Perhaps it'd work in the same way you'd move between streets. One street would just take you to a completely new URI in your browser, a new viewer, a new web app, and probably an entirely different experience. Changes to your character would sync between both worlds, with one world being your "home" world.
posted by samuelsidler at 2:20 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

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